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Audit Wales review will improve Powys Planning Services

THE FINDINGS of an Audit Wales review will be used to improve the council’s planning service, Powys County Council has said.

The report, published today (May 15), follows a review of the service which took place in 2022 and contains a series of suggestions to help improve planning services.

The outcome of the review found that Audit Wales have concerns ‘about the fundamental strategic, operational and cultural weaknesses of the council’s planning service’ and that these weaknesses hindered the service’s ability to ‘consistently and sustainably support staff and members to deliver an effective service that helps the council achieve its corporate objectives.’ 

Following interim feedback, the council immediately set up a service improvement board to consider the findings, propose detailed responses and put in place measures to ensure that they are followed through and implemented by the service.

Cllr Jake Berriman, Cabinet Member for a Connected Powys, said: “We fully accept the findings of this review. I would personally like to thank the auditors for the constructive way they have carried out this extensive review, which acknowledged what we do well and focussed on what is needed to improve our planning services.

“The review has confirmed that we have room for improvement and I’m completely committed to using this report to help put things right and work towards having one of the most highly regarded planning services in Wales.

“We have excellent officers working as part of a dedicated and committed planning team, who will embrace the report in full. Working with the service improvement board that I chair, it is their efforts that will ensure we rapidly improve the service so that in 12 months’ time, Audit Wales and service users will see a significant difference in our planning services.

“Our planning service will play an integral role in delivering our Corporate Plan ambitions of a Stronger, Fairer, Greener Powys. The Audit Wales report provides a timely reminder of the important role that planning must play in supporting the people and communities of Powys.

“To do this effectively, planning services including planning enforcement needs to be more purposeful, integrated, timely and efficient. It also needs to be supported by new ICT systems which makes planning much more open, accessible and responsive to the public.

“I hope that the planned improvements will assist us in regaining the public’s confidence in our planning services, which has already made significant inroads into reducing the planning application and enforcement backlogs built up over Covid-19. Dedicated enforcement roles have been created to give the service the focus it deserves.

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“I will be monitoring the situation carefully and welcome feedback from officers and the public as we continue to move the service forward.”

The Audit Wales report can be found by visiting https://www.audit.wales