2019 celebrates the 10th anniversary of the formation of Wiltshire Council as a unitary authority. With 98 councillors representing nearly 500,000 residents dispersed across the county, the council employs over 4,600 staff and spends £900 million each year, providing 350+ services to the people of Wiltshire.
The structure of the council is unique and, having operated since 2011 without a chief executive, this is a truly member led authority. Three executive directors, Terence Herbert, Dr Carlton Brand and Alistair Cunningham form the top tier and together with their directors they form a senior leadership that works very closely with the leader and cabinet to deliver the councils vision. The vision to create strong communities has remained unchanged since 2009 and is the focus of all the council’s business.
The council has been on a continual transformation journey since 2009 and is viewed as a highly innovative and creative council. However, this was interrupted in March 2018 when the city of Salisbury was thrust into the international spotlight following the nerve agent attack in the centre of the city. This attack and the later incident in Amesbury sparked a major public health scare nationally and internationally with residents, workers and visitors staying away from the city and surrounding area. The council supported partner agencies in the response to the incidents and were responsible for leading the recovery programme.
Despite this interruption the council was able to continue with its corporate peer challenge improvement programme and delivered budget savings of circa £24m in 2018/19, while also managing an early year’s improvement programme and delivering major change programmes in families and children’s services and in adult social care, which included a new reablement service and multi-agency safeguarding hub. A new waste service and contracts were delivered, and extensive work undertaken on the approval for a tunnel on the A303. The council also established a new housing and development company, two new community campuses and carried out a governance and boundary review.
The response to the events in 2018, and the way in which business as usual was maintained and transformation delivered during this period, has highlighted the resilience and effectiveness of the senior leadership team and cabinet.
Supporting delivery of the vision to create stronger communities are four key priorities that are outlined in the Business Plan. These priorities are:
- Growing the economy
- Strong communities
- Protecting those who are most vulnerable
- An innovative and effective council
Alongside delivering these priorities we also recognise that different areas in Wiltshire have different priorities. We respond to those local needs through 18 area boards focused around Amesbury, Bradford on Avon, Calne, Chippenham, Corsham, Devizes, Malmesbury, Marlborough, Melksham, Pewsey, Royal Wootton Bassett & Cricklade, Salisbury, Southern Wiltshire, South West Wiltshire, Tidworth, Trowbridge, Warminster and Westbury.
Enabling delivery of the vision and the priorities is a proud and committed workforce, which is diverse and includes the highest number of under 25s since 2015 thanks to focused effort in this area, and its hugely successful apprenticeship scheme that was recognised when the council won the large business apprenticeship employer of year at the Wiltshire College Apprenticeship Awards.
A recent staff engagement survey highlights the commitment of our staff, with an overall engagement index of 70%. In the results of the survey staff told us that they are proud to work for the council, feel valued, have managers that encourage them, have access to training & development opportunities, and can progress. Staff also told us how much they value our approach to flexible working, which means staff can work from home or from any of our locations across the county supported by access to flexibility in their working hours where services can support this.
With a competitive and award-winning employee benefits package that attracts, retains and motivates our employees, open plan working environments in our offices, and a can-do culture where talented people thrive, the council is a great place to work. We have even been named best council to work for in Britain by Glassdoor. Plus, with its vast green spaces, stunning countryside and superb community spirit, it is also a great place to live and work.