We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Council bottom on performance

December 10, 2009 12:00 AM
By Sophie Edwards in Brentwood Weekly News
Cllr David Kendall

Cllr David Kendall: The Tories simply cannot keep blaming the Lib Dems when they have been in control for SIX years

BRENTWOOD Council has been branded the worst performing council in Essex by an independent report.

The damning verdict comes from a report by the Audit Commission, published yesterday, which said the council performed "poorly" - the worst rating it can give.

The report revealed the council is failing to deliver affordable housing in the borough, did not follow basic procedures for buying goods and services, was not managing financial risk properly and sensitive data was not properly protected and was at risk of being disclosed.

The bad news comes less than two months after another Audit Commission report, on the council's financial accounts for 2008/9, judged the accounts so bad, the auditor was unable to sign them off.

However, the report, was not all doom and gloom, and praised the council in some areas, including recycling, street cleaning services and some cost savings.

Council leader Louise McKinlay said she was in meetings with the Audit Commission and could confirm progress was being made.

She blamed the pre-2004 Liberal Democrat administration for the failings and praised the council's partnership with Essex County Council.

She said: "For a number of years under the Liberal Democrat administration, the council suffered weaknessess and poor leadership. "This failure has led to the Conservatives having to deal with the situation and make drastic changes to turn things around.

"High levels of council tax and poor services to residents - all in place when the Conservatives took control - all needed to be dealt with.

"Clear direction with an understanding of what residents want has led to improvements, and this has been delivered more quickly under the arrangements with Essex County Council.

"Planning, recycling, enterprise and highways are all much improved.

"Regeneration activities have improved the town centre and continued working with other local authorities and the county council is bringing real benefits to our residents.

"Indeed, overall customer satisfaction is 89.8 per cent in our borough, the second highest in Essex."

The report's information is based on assessments carried out from April 2009, but may rely on figures going back to 2008/9.

Essex County Council also struggled in the report, rated "adequate" overall and with children's services "poor".

This has raised questions about the partnership between Brentwood and Essex County Council, as both councils share the same chief executive, Joanna Killian.

The reports were published on the new Oneplace website, launched by the Audit Commission this year.

LIB DEMS: Commission findings are"shocking"

The Liberal Democrat leader at Brentwood Council has slammed the Conservative administration for the "shocking" Audit Commission report.

Brentwood councillor David Kendall said the findings raised serious questions about the council's current leadership and its partnership with Essex County Council.

He also dismissed claims by council leader Louise McKinlay that the problems highlighted in the report dated back to when the Lib Dems were in power, before 2004.

He said: "This is a shocking report, especially coming so close on the heels of the finance report from the Audit Commission.

"We will be demanding answers from the council over the findings - it's time someone started taking some responsibility and showing some accountability for what has happened." In response to Mrs McKinlay's claims the blame lay with the Lib Dems, he said: "For her to blame the Lib Dems after the Tories have been running the council for the last six years is totally ridiculous and is treating our residents like fools."

About the Essex County Council partnership, he said: "It clearly isn't delivering."

"This shows Brentwood needs its own Chief Executive who has time to focus fully on the needs of our borough.

"There are so many issues which need to be addressed. If we are to continue our partnership we certainly need to see more of Ms Killian."