Hear from others who are peers

Find out how others have found the experience of being a LGA peer.


Councillor Peter Fleming, Leader, Sevenoaks District Council

Even as an experienced Peer I always know I will come away from a challenge or a review with insights and knowledge that I just couldn’t get from being in the bubble of either my authority or those councils I work with regularly. Having completed a remote review recently that brought another new experience and again challenged ways of working particularly as we currently are all doing so much of our work virtually. The opportunity to take part in a peer challenge or review is one I would really recommend

Councillor Ruth Dombey, Leader, Sutton Council

I've taken part in several peer challenges, both on specific areas and looking at councils corporately across the board. I have always found them interesting, sometimes even inspiring and they always provide food for thought and learning for me to take back to my own council. It is an opportunity to compare and contrast other councils with your own, learn from best practice and challenge ourselves to do better and differently. I would really recommend taking part - it's time well spent.

Councillor Linda Van Den Hende, Councillor, London Borough of Havering

Participating in a Remote Panel carries its own challenges, but my experience indicates its welcome as it allows a safe space for exploration of issues and development of solutions in tight timeframes. Despite its limitations, remote support still enables safe discussion with other politicians and officers which itself can be the catalyst for change. The Regional Peer role has enabled me to develop sustained relationships supporting the continual improvement offer in my area which is so important for the Councils I support and for my personal growth. You never stop learning!

Kath O'Dwyer, Chief Executive, St Helens Council 

Having had the privilege of being part of, and leading, peer review teams in a number of councils, the opportunity to support both authorities and colleagues within the sector, to identify and share good practice, to identify learning to take back to the ranch and make fabulous connections, cannot be underestimated. I think the process is a great opportunity for development and improvement for both the ‘givers’ and the ‘receivers’"

Joanna Ruffle, Executive Director (Transformation), Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

I have been on 4 peer review teams now. It is a great way to immerse yourself intensively in another organisation and I have learned so much from them all and from my fellow peers. Some of this learning is now alive and well in Southend so it really does make a difference: not just to the Council being reviewed but to the peer authorities also. Initially I was a little sceptical about how effective a ‘remote’ peer review could be but nevertheless I agreed to spend 2 days ‘in’ Rotherham last July looking at their transformation. By the end of this time I really understood Rotherham and its people.  Working on MS Teams brought a different dynamic to the review but interestingly, I found that people were prepared to be more candid when talking to you from their kitchen and this led to an enhanced insight into the Council and therefore authentic and more helpful feedback at the end.  Becoming a peer reviewer is a great experience and adds real value to your own personal development regardless of where you are on your career journey. I cannot recommend it highly enough."

Nick Tustian, Chief Executive, Eastleigh Borough Council

I cannot recommend enough the experience of leading a Peer Review. It’s always a great privilege to be invited as part of a team to undertake the review of another Council, sharing the knowledge you have learned during your career in local government. However, in truth the learning is both ways – I’ve always found the experience to be both informative and enriching and something I would actively encourage others to take part in."

Perry Holmes, Director of Legal and Governance, Wiltshire Council

This is the richest form of personal development I have experienced to date, being part of a Corporate Peer Challenge team for a week, taking part in an intensive sector led improvement initiative, facilitated by a superb LGA peer challenge manager led by an exceptional Chief Executive and with a strong peer team of public sector colleagues. I would recommend being part of the process to anyone seeking to improve their own practice, broaden their sector knowledge and keen to share their skills, insight and knowledge with other Councils."

Bev Smith, Chief Executive, North West Leicestershire District Council

It is a real privilege to be a peer reviewer for the LGA, the opportunity to splendid time with other authorities, contributing to their journey of improvement and sharing best practice. I have learnt so much from others and am able to bring back learning to share within my own council. I have also taken part on one of the new virtual peer reviews on COVID recovery with South Staffordshire, an excellent authority and a chance to share some of the challenges we have all faced this year. I would encourage anyone to take the time to get involved, it’s great for your own personal development and so satisfying and rewarding to be able to be part of another council’s journey."

Jackie Smith, Corporate Director (Commercial), South Staffordshire Council:

I found being part of the whole process really useful in developing my skills and working with colleagues from other authorities."

Councillor Tom Beattie, Leader of Corby Borough Council:

The peer challenge was stimulating and very enjoyable. The ability to look at what another authority is doing and to share experiences with other members of the peer team was extremely useful."

Adrian Smith, Corporate Director – Place, Nottinghamshire County Council:

I’m proud to have been part of the LGA Peers Team invited into Staffordshire County Council in 2018. The Team brought experience and insights from across the country to bring challenge and share learning with colleagues in Staffordshire as they planned the delivery of their ambitious vision and medium term budget. Like many councils, Staffordshire had a lot of successful practice to share and also areas of improvement. Peer review is such a powerful tool both for those being reviewed but also for the review team who gain new learning and time to reflect with peers about the challenges we face in our own councils."

Paul Wilson, Chief Executive, Derbyshire Dales District Council:

The Peer Challenge programme is an excellent development opportunity for all members of the review team. The knowledge that you gain from discussions with your peers is invaluable and can be used to benefit your own organisation. I can thoroughly recommend the experience"

Paula Youell, Head of Adult Safeguarding, Suffolk County Council

Whilst being a peer may be seen as a further demand on an already challenging role, as Head of Safeguarding in Suffolk I have found participation in peer challenges to be both professionally rewarding and insightful. The rewards include working alongside colleagues from a wide range of disciplines from across the country – providing a real opportunity to discuss best practice, key national themes and realistic challenges faced by local government. In addition working with the ‘host’ authority, peers are afforded insight into the systems, processes and leadership of different areas of work, allowing the peer team to highlight excellence. In turn this insight may be taken back to the peer’s own authority to inform service improvements. I have made some valuable professional friendships across the sector and continue to receive requests for information and/or advice as well as my asking advice from them, which I believe is one of the main benefits from becoming a peer. My learning from peer challenges remains the single largest source of practice knowledge, strategic thinking and professional leadership which has enhanced my performance and shaped service delivery within my county."

Further information

For further information about the peer challenge programme and role of peers, please contact:

Alex Marshall

Alexandra.marshall@local.gov.uk

07799 268 739

Alison Gover

Alison.gover@local.gov.uk

07789 932 515

Ged Perkins

Ged.perkins@local.gov.uk

07979 715 392