South Hams and West Devon Councils have been recently characterised by their energy and creativity, promoted by the political commitment to drive change. The decision to work together, beginning in 2007 with a shared Chief Executive, is one of the earliest examples in local government and was consolidated by the move to a shared management team and services in place by 2012. The record of shared working and services provides annual savings of more than £6m across both Councils.
The Councils’ transformation programme T18 – transformation 2018 – was bold and required firm political leadership. It has secured the Councils’ immediate financial future with essential savings of £1.5m at West Devon and £2.93m per year at South Hams. The programme of change, running from 2013 to 2018, involved considerable upheaval and challenge.
In addition to the savings achieved, T18 has led to a more agile organisation, with morale having turned the corner – the latter confirmed by improving staff survey trends over the last three years. It has contributed towards improving service performance through remapping business processes.
You can read more about the Council’s transformation programme here, in the outgoing Chief Executive’s LGC article, and in the Peer Challenge document here, and the Peer Challenge Feedback Report here alongside the Peer Challenge Update January 2020 here.
The Councils have a workforce of around 300 and are amongst the largest employers in the area. The Chief Executive and four Strategic Directors form the Councils’ management team. Council staff and services are based in two offices, Kilworthy Park in Tavistock and Follaton House in Totnes, with facilities across the District and Borough.
The Councils have created what many would see as a leading-edge working culture. There are no telephone land lines on desks in the open plan offices – all colleagues use the latest technology to communicate from wherever they are across the two areas. Flexible working patterns and a focus on outcomes rather than inputs means that is frequently from home, saving over one million commuting miles each year. Traditional silos and prescriptive management have given way to a high trust environment and a one organisation matrix management system.
We believe that we have a can-do culture where talented people thrive and it’s a great place to work. And with its beautiful coastline, stunning countryside and superb community spirit, it is also a great place to live.