Watford Borough Council has been recognised as a “high-performing, bold and progressive council” after a visit by a team of assessors from the Local Government Association (LGA).
They spoke to more than 90 people as part of their research, including council staff, councillors and external partners who work with the council. They gathered information and views from 42 meetings and put more than 180 hours of work into determining their findings. The assessment took place after a request by the council for their help to make services in Watford even better.
Elected Mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill said: “It is always a bit nerve wracking having such an experienced team coming in to take a close up look at what you are doing – no area is off limits. It was really important for me to make sure we were getting it right for Watford and to see if we were missing a trick where other councils are doing things better.
“Hearing the team’s extremely positive assessment of Watford, and the council, was very heartening for me and for all our councillors and staff. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect. There’s still a lot of work to do, but to be told we are one of the best districts in the country is outstanding.”
The results of the assessment – known as a corporate peer challenge – are made public today for the first time in a new report by the LGA, published at 10.01am. The report states that the council takes a “positive approach to working with partners to make sure that the best options and services available are delivered to residents”. This is reflected in the council’s last resident engagement survey, where more than 90 per cent of residents were satisfied with services in their community.
The council’s many partners include the Watford Business Improvement District (BID), intu Watford, Herts Police, Watford Community Housing, and park and street cleaning experts Veolia. They told assessors that the council is a “finely tuned and lean machine that is delivering an ambitious plan for growth and regeneration”.
Watford was recognised one of the smallest council areas in the country. However, assessors said: “The council is seen as punching above its weight in terms of the partnerships and investment projects for the size of the place.”
They found that staff felt “valued and appreciated”, “engaged and positive” about their work, and “enthusiastic and committed to Watford as a place”.