Headlines: November 26th, 1999

Many councils have failed to listen to council tax payers in devising their plans for Best Value. This is one of the findings to emerge from research by the Department for Transport Environment and Regions which shows that citizens are likely to get a poor deal from Best Value.The new duty laid on councils to deliver best value requires them to produce plans by March 2000 showing how they will do this. The researchers found little evidence that the public had been consulted in the planning process. The exception was the London Borough of Hackney’s feedback exercise: ‘put your mouth where your money is’.

The Best Value Performance Plans are intended to be the way by which authorities are held accountable to local people, but there is little prospect that this will happen in the short term. Plans average 55 pages of text with no illustrations. There are objectives without performance information so achievement cannot be measured and most plans fail to relate to specific service plans.

It is also clear that there has been little movement towards joined up working with other councils or with other agencies. There is no mention of benchmarking, or comparison information from other authorities and no acknowledgement that other agencies are involved in delivering services. .