Headlines: December 18th, 2002

More than 100 council leaders have signed up to a pledge that commits their councils to either give or receive support to improving services. The pledge ‘Moving towards excellence’ is sponsored by the Local Government Association and its aim is to make sure that there is no need for the Government to intervene in the running of any council by 2006.The Comprehensive Performance Assessment tables published last week showed 13 councils performing poorly, with a further 22 in the weak category. This assessment was limited to the largest 150 councils and the remaining 300 smaller councils will be brought into the assessment process in December next year. Councils in the bottom, poorly performing, category are subject to special monitoring and intervention by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister if there is no marked and rapid improvement.

Council leaders who have signed the pledge have committed their councils to take a full part in the local government improvement agenda. This involves developing the capacity of their own council to improve performance and sharing performance improvement ‘know-how’ either by giving or receiving it. This will mean working with government departments, central bodies and other organizations to enhance the capacity of local government as a whole and to ensure that each council has access to the support it needs to improve.

The Association believes that tackling the problem of poor performance from within local government will be much more effective than parachuting in hit squads from outside. The expectation is that the pledge will result in a step change in the performance of those councils that are currently not performing well.