Councils launch judicial review

Torbay and Ealing Councils have started judicial review proceedings
against the Audit Commission over the comprehensive performance
assessment, and others are considering following suit.

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, with a hearing likely shortly after.

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

He said:”The Audit Commission Act 1998 allows studies but an
assessment is not a study and you cannot charge for studies anyway
and they have charged for CPA. The Local Government Act 1999 allows
inspections under section 10 but it cannot be an inspection as the
CPA is not directed towards Best Value under the 1999 act.”

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

Meanwhile, the CPA “poor” rating received by Coventry social
services has had a negative effect on staff morale following its
zero stars in the refreshed star ratings. John Bolton, Coventry’s
social services and housing director, said social services staff
felt they were once again “carrying the brunt for the

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.

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