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Council rated worst in UK on finances

PUBLISHED: 11:31 05 February 2008 | UPDATED: 19:39 05 July 2010

THREE of the region's councils have been slated as the worst in the country for how they handle their money.

Norwich, Yarmouth and Waveney have been ranked at the bottom of all 388 councils in the country by the government body which keeps tabs on the local authorities.

THREE of the region's councils have been slated as the worst in the country for how they handle their money.

Norwich, Yarmouth and Waveney have been ranked at the bottom of all 388 councils in the country by the government body which keeps tabs on the local authorities. The three are joint worst alongside Mid Devon - which makes East Anglia the worst region in the country at spending taxpayers' money.

The findings have been published by the Audit Commission, which has studied how councils used their resources in the last financial year and given them all a score from one to four.

Just 10 across the country have got one, the worst score, which means “below minimum requirements, inadequate performance”.

The rankings are broken down into five areas, and the four worst councils get a rating of one in four of the areas and manage a two, meaning adequate, in the fifth.

All the other 384 councils in the country were rated as at least adequate in at least two areas.

Mark Wallace, campaign director of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be disgusted to find these three councils are taking such poor care of their money. These findings are damning and the councils involved should be ashamed of themselves.”

The councils had already been presented with a damning annual governance report by the Audit Commission but only now has it been revealed that they are in the bottom four in the country. At Waveney, the problems had already led to the departure of chief executive Glen Garrod in December.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said: “This is outrageous. This is seriously bad. There is no council in the country that has got a worse rating.”

All three councils pointed out that the findings only ran up to March last year, and that improvements had been made since then,

Waveney District Council leader Mark Bee said: “We have accepted the challenge that this report provides… With the help of senior- level changes and improvement consultants and our new interim chief executive, we are far more optimistic about the year ahead.”

Norwich City Council has now overhauled its financial systems, appointed a new head of finance, restructured its finance team and developed a medium-term financial strategy.

Chief executive Laura McGillivray said: “To demonstrate our progress we commissioned Pricewaterhouse-Coopers to report on our progress this year. Their report… demonstrates our improvement in almost every area of the council's financial management.”

Yarmouth Borough Council leader Barry Coleman said: “We are doing all we have to in order to put it right as soon as possible. We have got a new corporate director, a new head of finance, a new financial management system, all in response to issues the Audit Commission has raised.”

All the other district councils in Norfolk were rated as adequate, except for Broadland, which got a three, meaning it is performing well. Norfolk County Council was also rated as performing well.

A district council has criticised as “outrageous” proposals by the Audit Commission to increase significantly the fees charged to complete local authority audits.

The commission has proposed fee increases for district councils of 14pc in 2008-09, and rises of 8pc in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

This compares with average funding increases for district councils announced in the recent local government finance settlement of 2.4pc in 2008-09 and 1.4pc in each of the following two years.

But, Mid Suffolk District Council will be receiving a settlement below the national average of 1.8pc for 2008-09, with a small increase of 0.5pc in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

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