Two councils mount legal challenge to performance assessments

Torbay and Ealing councils have started judicial review
proceedings against the Audit Commission over the comprehensive
performance assessment, writes Katie

The councils are continuing discussions with the Audit
Commission, but have lodged application papers with the high court.
Should the proceedings continue, the Audit Commission must come up
with its case by early January, and a hearing is likely to take
place shortly afterwards.

Stephen Cirell, head of local government at law firm Eversheds
and the solicitor representing the councils said that the CPA was
unlawful because the Audit Commission did not have the power to
carry it out.

He advised other councils not to pay outstanding CPA bills
because the Audit Commission did not have the power to charge for

Meanwhile the CPA has had a negative effect on morale in
Coventry’s social services department. Coventry was rated as
‘poor’ in the CPA and this followed its social services department
being awarded zero stars in both the original and refreshed star

John Bolton, Coventry’s social services and housing director,
who is a former director of social services joint reviews, said
that the focus was once again on the failing social services
department resulting in some social services staff feeling that
they were “carrying the brunt for the council”.

Public sector union Unison branded the CPA process “a
misuse of time and money” which would not lead to
improvements in the quality of services.

National secretary for local government Heather Wakefield
described the CPA process as “skewed towards priorities
determined by unaccountable inspectors with little knowledge of the
localities they inspect.”

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