Council of the Year Throwbacks - Eastbourne 2011

Applications for the Transformation Awards 2019 are OPEN!


To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Public Sector Transformation Awards, we are taking a trip down memory lane to look at the past Council of the Year Winners.


2011: Eastbourne Borough Council

A wholesale transformation programme which saw Eastbourne Borough Council go from one in crisis to one which successfully changed the culture of the organisation, its financial standing and performance

Eastbourne Borough Council had the lowest rating of all the councils in the South East. When new leader Councillor David Tutt took control in May 2007 he realised the local authority had serious issues - it was losing money, its reputation with external businesses was poor and it had no performance management strategies for staff or suppliers.

Six months after taking control, a transformation programme was launched. It started with setting up a project team of twenty people, with employees from all levels of the organisation and from every geographical site. This team interviewed every staff member and external partners to understand what it was like to work for and with Eastbourne Borough Council.

"The first stage of the transformation was moving to an agile working base, changing the way that we work, empowering our staff to make decisions and introducing an entrepreneurial culture. From that point onwards we have introduced a lot of new income streams, which are helping us provide frontline services without cuts - despite the government grant cut," explains Councillor David Tutt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council.

It was at this stage that the council's hard work was recognised with its iESE Council of the Year win. "We were delighted. It gave us recognition of what we believed we had achieved and a stamp of approval," explains Councillor Tutt. "We thought we had made major changes in a short space of time and wanted external ratification of that. It gave an amazing boost to elected members and to staff. Staff were very proud that they were recognised for the good things that they were doing, rather than being a council in crisis."

Following the award win, Eastbourne proceeded with its second tranche of changes, which was to go fully digital and remove the functional silos of specific departments. Its restructure saw a move to a localities service for tasks out in the community and the introduction of case handling teams which are able to deal with cases of any type with subject specialists on hand to advise them.

The third tranche of changes, which are still ongoing, was moving to a shared service model with Lewes District Council.

Councillor Tutt says winning Council of the Year opened the door to sharing best practice with other local authorities. "We have helped others with setting up their own housing companies and we have had many councils from around the UK come to visit to see how we have transformed."

He says he would encourage other councils that have made major strides to consider putting themselves forward. "It gives the community confidence that the council is well run but, more importantly, it boosts morale of councillors and staff and helps them recognise that what they are doing is the right thing and recognised by others in the local government family. Things don't end with winning Council of the Year, it allows you go on to achieve more," he adds.