Report shows 'tensions' between St Albans District Council and Herts County Council

PUBLISHED: 10:19 08 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:54 06 May 2010

IMPROVEMENTS have been made at St Albans District Council since it received a fair rating in an inspection four years ago. The council has now been rated good by the Audit Commission in the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) which was publishe

IMPROVEMENTS have been made at St Albans District Council since it received a "fair" rating in an inspection four years ago.

The council has now been rated "good" by the Audit Commission in the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) which was published this week.

It follows a self-assessment later scrutinised by inspectors visiting the council.

The report acknowledges improved performance and targeted action in areas such as recycling, planning, addressing the needs of homeless people, anti-social behaviour, good-quality parks and increased leisure opportunities.

It commended good leadership and the work of "committed" and "well-trained" staff.

The report also said that the council's priorities were clear and reflected the local needs of most, if not all, communities.

But some areas of weakness were identified including an "inconsistent approach" to partnerships. The Audit Commission said that "tensions" with Herts County Council at a senior level were obstructing full joint working.

It also said that budget cuts and demands for more service efficiencies presented a "real challenge" to the organisation as staff were already under pressure.

Improvements also need to be made in a vision for delivering sustainable development while preserving the Green Belt and the city's historic environment.

Under-performance at the council also needs addressing more promptly.

Council leader Robert Donald said: "I am delighted that the Audit Commission's assessment, against a higher standard that the previous CPA in 2004, shows how much progress the council has made since then. I want to pay thanks publicly to all council staff for their work in achieving this well-deserved result under the leadership of our chief executive and his management team."

He added: "The report however also shows ways in which the council can serve residents even better. I am determined therefore that these further improvements are now implemented to ensure that excellent services are provided and the unique character of our district is maintained to achieve our aims as a premier community."

Daniel Goodwin, chief executive, said: "The council has been improving over a number of years and this assessment is great recognition for the contribution that its employees have made."

He added: "But this is a partnership too. Any successful council needs to work with local residents, councillors, staff and other local organisations to provide high-quality services and leadership within the local community, and I look forward to working with all of them to secure further improvements in the future.

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