National Park Authority assessment records excellence

Joe White advising at a weekly planning surgery Joe White, principal planning officer, at one of the weekly planning surgeries. Photo by Steve Guscott

An independent, in-depth study of Exmoor National Park Authority has praised various aspects of the organisation’s work with ‘excellent’ performance levels being recorded in two areas.
The assessment of the National Park Authority took place over a period of weeks before the team arrived on site at Exmoor House for a 4 day visit last month. During their stay on Exmoor the team, which consisted of peer representatives from other National Parks and local authorities interviewed staff, Members, volunteers and 50 external representatives enabling them to receive a range of views on how well the Authority is performing.
In their report the team provided a summary of performance against the seven ‘key lines of enquiry’ (KLOE*) and the Authority is regarded as ‘performing well’ against five KLOEs and ‘performing excellently’ against two.
This equals the best overall performance achieved by the eight authorities that have so far received NPAPA assessments.
Commenting on the report, chief executive Dr Nigel Stone said: “This is a gratifying outcome and reflects well on our commitment to improvement our performance over the past few years. Particularly welcome was the very positive feedback that the assessment team received from all the people that they met - external partners, staff and Members.
“Although we are pleased with the results of the assessment, we are not complacent and will continue to work hard with our partner organisations and individuals for the good of Exmoor National Park.”
Some particularly positive examples from within the report include:
• “The Authority is well connected to communities and listens well and understands the local issues and needs.” [5.3]
• “The planning service is highly regarded and is seen as approachable on issues. A proactive approach is taken to development management and this is recognised across all sectors accessing planning services.”[8.5]
• “The Authority is good at handling change. The Authority has shown in the two major restructures it has undertaken that it can manage change well and still retain the confidence of its staff in difficult circumstances.”[9.7]
• “Partners are complimentary about the Authority’s responsiveness. Partners see the Authority as refreshingly quick to get decisions from, responsive to request for input and prompt in replying to requests forinformation.” [10.3]
The assessment includes a number of recommendations for improvement and these have been incorporated into the draft Improvement Plan 2012-15 that was provided in advance of the assessment visit.
Commenting on the assessment National Park Authority chairman John Dyke said: “I have continually been impressed by the commitment – and indeed passion – which all concerned display towards Exmoor and I believe that this dedication has been recognised by the assessors and shines through  their report.”
A copy of the NPAPA Assessment is available at: item 6.
*Key Lines of Enquiry
1. Quality of Vision
2. Setting and Using Priorities
3. Achievement of Outcomes: Conservation
4. Achievement of Outcomes: Promoting Understanding and Service Delivery
5. Achievement of Outcomes: Wider Sustainable Development
6. Use of Resources:
Managing Finances
Governing the Business
Managing Resources
Use of Resources – Overall score
7. Leadership & Improving Performance


Published: 23 November 2012

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