|Croydon Conservatives - Article From our Database|
|22 February 2007|
|Three Star Croydon 'Improving Well'|
The Audit Commission’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment figures for 2006 show that despite having to cope with severely limited resources, Croydon continues to be rated among London’s better performing councils.
Croydon’s outcome in the annual, independent assessment is all the more credible as the Commission has deliberately imposed tougher tests to force continuing improvement.
In their summary of Croydon’s performance during the year the Commission highlighted housing, secondary school attainment, planning services and benefits processing as areas that have all improved. Public access to the council is becoming easier through the contact centre, say inspectors, and the council ‘makes good use’ of external funding to help disadvantaged parts of the borough.
The inspectors added: “Service costs remain relatively low and value for money is good. The council has been successful in its key priority of keeping the council tax low and the council’s overall financial position continues to improve.”
Of particular note in Croydon’s accomplishment in the year was the housing department’s return to a three star service after losing its status a year earlier by the narrowest of margins. Maintaining two stars for cultural services is also regarded as a respectable outcome when its parent department was heavily pressed on finances - and other councils saw their scores for cultural services fall.
Although the Commission say there are no significant weaknesses that might prevent Croydon’s improvement levels from being sustained, it has picked out recycling as a service that needs to improve - an area that is already being addressed by the new council through its launch of the upgraded Your Street services.
Additionally inspectors point to residents’ relatively low satisfaction level for sports and leisure facilities. However, this too is being addressed through the current major refurbishment of South Norwood Pool, and proposals to replace the outdated pool at New Addington and to build an additional pool at Waddon.
Said council leader Mike Fisher: “We are satisfied with this rating. It’s a worthy achievement given the backdrop of continuing underfunding from Government. Our aim, if resources allow, must be to live up to the assessment that the council is ‘improving well’.
“We know there is room for improvement. That’s why so much painful effort went into getting our finances on a sound footing so that we could then tackle the environmental and safety concerns that matter most to residents. Recycling, for example, is already getting better. We must do more to ensure residents recognise what the council does for them as a way of overcoming low satisfaction levels. However, let’s be clear; the teams of inspectors who regularly trawl over our work need to understand the scope for improvement will be limited if the Government continues to impose inflexible and unfunded demands that reduce our discretion to focus on the priorities of local residents.”