Lib Dem run council praised by Audit Commission for its response to recession

December 9, 2009 12:02 AM

Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East Greg Stone has hailed the positive report from the Audit Commission on Lib Dem run Newcastle City Council's performance.

The Comprehensive Area Assessment report confirms Newcastle's status as a three-star authority (out of a possible four), and identifies Newcastle as one of only two "green flag" authorities for its work on addressing the economic recession, thanks in part to the work of Newcastle Futures which Greg chairs.

As part of its organisational assessment, the council maintained its current score of three out of a possible four, performing well overall in the criteria of managing performance, resources and finances. This was despite more stringent and broader based assessment criteria than used previously, with a focus on results rather than how things are done.

The council is praised for having a good understanding of the city and its people, together with an ambitious vision for the future which is making a difference that people can see. Adult social care, community safety and the environment are particularly praised.

The CAA report finds that despite the impact of the recession, the economy of Newcastle is generally stronger than before. It comes in the wake of a report by the Forum for the Future which put Newcastle top of its Sustainable Cities Index. The council is committed to reducing the environmental impact which is acknowledged by our position on top of the league table for promoting environmental and sustainability issues.

The assessment also praised the council's provision of adult social care. Vulnerable people in Newcastle are being helped to live better lives, more independently and health problems are well understood with actions making a difference. However, there are still areas of health improvement where the pace of progress needs to quicken. Many GPs in the city provide high quality services, but there is too much inconsistency between the best and the worst.

The report also highlighted:

  • Good progress on crime reduction with the area safer than it was a year ago
  • 79% of residents are satisfied with their immediate area as a good place to live in. This is higher than average for similar areas
  • Strong involvement of local people in decisions to spend local funding such as the U-Decide programme
  • Good partnership work to give local people a voice in the decision making process
  • Innovative work to reduce the numbers of long term unemployed such as the Newcastle Futures project

Greg said "I am aware that the CAA process is not universally popular as it can be a bureaucratic burden on the council. However I am delighted that the inspection has given the council a positive report and particularly pleased that the council's excellent work in addressing the economic downturn has received national recognition.

"Our status as one of only two authorities nationally to be commended for our work in this regard is a severe embarrassment to Labour councillors who have sought to attack us on this issue and exposes their criticism as shallow political opportunism"