Councillors’ concerns on assessments lead to call for more transparency

Serious questions were raised at the Local Government
Association’s sixth annual conference in Bournemouth about the new
comprehensive performance assessment and its ability to improve

Concerns about the system, which is being introduced this year
to assess councils’ performances, were voiced throughout the
three-day conference. Many delegates questioned the amount of time
and money spent preparing for it and whether it could force
councils to concentrate on national targets at the expense of local

At their general assembly meeting before the conference opened,
LGA members passed a motion warning government that the CPA system
would not work unless it was open and transparent.

They also insisted that it must deliver freedom and flexibility
to all councils, be accompanied with additional resources, focus on
improvement plans rather than council league tables, and result in
a lighter touch inspection regime.

Two days later, a meeting of more than 250 LGA conference
delegates voted two to one in favour of a motion that stated the
CPA would not improve services.

Speaking at the meeting, leader of Kent’s Shepway District
Council Rory Love said: “The question for me is whether it is right
that we should divert our resources from our manifesto pledges in
order to give a good account of ourselves to the Audit

Calling for local people to be allowed to judge for themselves
their council’s success, Love added: “I believe the CPA is
fundamentally anti-local and anti-government, and therefore

But director of inspection at the Audit Commission Paul Kirby
said that local priorities and agendas were being taken into
account during the assessment process, and that it was right to
tell local people where their council stood in relation to

Addressing the whole conference, deputy prime minister John
Prescott denied that the CPA was anti-local government or
anti-democratic, and insisted the system would help improve
performance and sharpen accountability.

“The scheme is rigorous but it is not just about grading
councils. CPA is about improvement. We need to know what each
council does well and where it needs support. CPA will mean
opportunities for good performers – through new freedoms and
flexibilities – as well as help for weaker performers,” he

The star ratings for social services departments will feed into
the CPA for each top-tier council, along with scores for other
council services, to give overall council performance ratings by
December 2002.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.