PERFORMANCE GAP IN WELSH COUNCILS ‘LEAVES ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT’
Local councils across Wales have been congratulated for improving services in the last year but then told they can do still better. Welsh Assembly Local Government Minister, Sue Essex said the variation in performance between local authorities showed there was room for improvement in some areas. She was commenting after the publication of the first ever set of comprehensive data on local service performance in Wales.
Sue Essex said there was much in the report to be pleased about and she commended the Local Government Data Unit for producing the information in so clear and accessible a way. The report, she said, broke new ground and she was looking forward to it being a regular annual publication. Its data, she added, would improve public understanding of local government and enhance the ability of citizens to hold their councils to account.
The report shows that service standards in most areas have risen. Local authorities are, for example, sending less rubbish to landfill sites, and recycling more. There have also been improvements in the protection of children in council care and council house repairs are being carried out more quickly.
“This report demonstrates the genuine and sustained commitment by local authorities and their employees to deliver high-quality services to local people. It identifies which authorities have done particularly well in each service area and I must congratulate them,” the Minister said. .
She added, though, that the report also made clear which councils had performed less well. “I accept that some variations in performance are inevitable as local authorities in different parts of Wales face different and sometimes formidable challenges, but in some cases the range of performance from the best to the worst is too high,” she said.
Councillor Derek Vaughan, leader of the Local Government Association in Wales, said the publication of the statistics was a big step forward in explaining and understanding the performance of local services. Overall, he said, the performance picture was positive but he added, “We must however ensure that we are as consistent as possible in providing high standards of service across Wales. Some of the variations in performance from authority to authority are concerning and further work needs to be done to close the gap.”