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Case study: Derbyshire County Council Countryside Services

Updated: Apr 15

Client: Derbyshire County Council


Date: December 2018 – August 2020


Challenges faced by the client: Derbyshire County Council’s Countryside Service is a highly valued service that ensures the countryside of Derbyshire is open to residents and visitors.


However, the Countryside Service faces a significant number of challenges. The Service is under pressure following budget savings of £1m in 2016 and was required to make a further £500k saving. The previous budget reduction was achieved through a reduction of 17.1 FTE staff. Since then, the Service has continued to deliver the same scope and scale of services, putting the quality and the performance of the Service at risk. There is a concern that further cuts to the Service as currently delivered will significantly impact on quality and the Service will become unsustainable.


Support offered: The Council wished to explore whether a new approach to supporting the Service is required. With this context in mind Mutual Ventures, Bates Wells and Chiltern Rangers were procured to undertake an objective and independent Service Review, Portfolio Analysis and Options Appraisal.


Early on during the Service Review we identified particular challenges in regard to one element of the Countryside Service, the Public Rights of Way team. The Council procured Mutual Ventures to undertake a detailed ‘deep-dive’ into the operations of the team and make recommendations for its improvement.


Following the initial phase of work recommendations were made around the future of the Service. Namely, that the Service should be restructured and some teams and functions relocated to other parts of the Council. A Public Service Mutual was recommended for the remained of the Service – in order to maximise operational independence and allow the Service to grow and achieve financial sustainability.


From this point on we have provided project management, technical expertise and business case writing capacity in order to design the new model. We have engaged widely with other Council teams to ensure the model works going forward and built a robust business case for the Public Service Mutual.


Outcome achieved: Our support to date has provided Derbyshire County Council with a robust understanding of the importance and impact of its Countryside Service. We have identified improvements and supported the Council to restructure the Service in order to maximise quality. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic work on the future operating model of the remainder of the service was suspended.