Hull City Council has been told it is a “hugely ambitious” organisation with top-quality leadership and a strong sense of place.
The local authority was praised in its LGA (Local Government Association) Corporate Peer Challenge report, released on Monday.
As part of the review, a team of senior officers and councillors from local authorities from across the UK, supported by the LGA, spoke with external stakeholders, partners, council officers and councillors. They gathered information from more than 30 meetings and visits and conducted extensive background research.
The report called Hull City Council a “hugely ambitious organisation with an impressive track record of delivering some very significant regeneration projects”.
Hull’s period as UK City of Culture 2017 acted as a catalyst for the council to bring the city together, the report said, adding that there is a visible difference in the city, which now “looks and feels confident and in control of its destiny”.
Elected members and senior officers provide top-quality leadership to the council and the city, it said, while Council Leader Stephen Brady and Chief Executive Matt Jukes were also praised for their leadership.
Councillor Stephen Brady, Leader of Hull City Council, said: “The results of this report recognise the tremendous amount of hard work and ambition that has resulted in real change in the city over the past five years, particularly in terms of our economy, employment and regeneration.
“There is a huge amount of pride from the council’s members and officers, which shows in the efforts that go into achieving our goals.”
The report also said the council has made big progress over the past five years on physical regeneration, developing strong collaborative relationships with its strategic partners and building self-confidence across the local authority.
It spoke of the council’s “strong and effective partnerships”, stating that “trust is the bedrock of collaboration” and praising the council’s “exemplary” relationship with the Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (Hull CCG), which has resulted in joint commissioning, pooled budgets and an integrated governance structure across the health and social care system.
Business partners are also in tune with the council, according to the report, which recognised “significant appetite from partners to collectively take opportunities and solve problems”.
The report also highlighted challenges faced by Hull City Council, including a need to align its communications and city marketing strategies.
It said the biggest challenge facing Hull is to deliver fair growth by addressing deprivation surrounding the city centre, while it recognised the big task being undertaken by the council to develop Hull as a connected city in order to attract businesses, create well-paid jobs for local people and ensure of the benefits from the improving economy reach all sections of the community.
Hull City Council’s Chief Executive Matt Jukes said: “I am a strong supporter of the LGA’s Peer Review process because it provides an independent and external assessment of what we are doing and how we are doing it, and it’s undertaken by those experienced in the challenges and opportunities facing local government.
“This report, written by our peers, recognises the tremendous job done by Hull City Council’s officers, our councillors and our many partners across the city.
“Over the past five years, Hull has seen record levels of investment and employment, a boom in the building of new homes and the highest GVA growth in Yorkshire. We have also transformed our services to provide support to our residents in different ways, reflecting the major budget reductions we have had to cope with.
“We have re-established our role as a city that drives economic growth across the north and the next stage of our journey will see us tackle the areas of potential improvement highlighted in the report. This includes our ability to market ourselves to potential visitors, investors and residents while further addressing areas of economic need across the city. We fully take on board the recommendations made in the report and are already putting in place actions to meet them.
“Despite the tremendous improvements seen in the city and the council during this period, we are always focused on doing things better.”