Poor performing council attacked

THE Audit Commission's latest report on Tory controlled Waveney District Council reveals it as one of the four worst performing councils in the country, an MP claimed today.

THE Audit Commission's latest report on Tory controlled Waveney District Council reveals it as one of the four worst performing councils in the country, an MP claimed today.

Bob Blizzard accused the council of not making these findings public but this was strenuously denied by council leader Mark Bee.

Mr Blizzard said the ratings, which focus on “Use of Resources”, put the council in the bottom category (1) for overall performance, while for the five “themes” that this comprises, Waveney received the worst score (1) on four of them, with only a (2) in the other.

The Waveney MP said these were the worst set of results among the 388 councils in England and only three other councils scored as badly.

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Council leader Mark Bee said the council had been open about the Audit Commission report and was looking to take a positive response. He said Mr Blizzard's claim of not making the details public was “laughable”.

“The MP would do well to carry out some research and get his facts straight before making such unfounded statements. It is ridiculous to suggest that we have kept this quiet given that the Use of Resources judgement was explicitly given as one of the reasons for the departure of chief executive Glen Garrod in December.

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“The Audit Commission also presented the findings to full council on December 13 in an open and public forum, reported by the media, and to suggest that this council has in some way hidden this information is as laughable as it is inaccurate.

“In terms of the report itself - and as we have already said - the Audit Commission's findings refer to a point in time in the early part of last year. Nevertheless, we have accepted the challenge that this report provides and the senior level changes are amongst the tough decisions already taken to pick up the pace of improvement. With the help of senior change and improvement consultants and our new interim chief executive, we have drawn a line in the sand and we are far more optimistic about the year ahead,” he said.

Labour MP Bob Blizzard described the findings of the report as “truly shocking” and listed what he saw as council failures.

“These findings are truly shocking. They are the latest in a long line of damning reports, and even worse than previous years. They show that despite promises of improvement from the elected leadership, this Tory council is going downhill. Local council tax payers are getting a raw deal. All we are getting for our money is failure.

“The Audit Commission has given the official verdict on what we have already seen,” he said.

The MP criticised council spending including:

£620,000 spent on illegal contract with consultants.

£450,000 wasted on legal costs trying to sell off caravan sites.

£500,000 wasted on trying to sell off all its council houses.

According to the MP this has led to a Huge rise in car park charges which are keeping people away from Lowestoft town centre, the abolishing of the rat control service, and cutting grants to voluntary bodies.

“Yet amidst all this, the council still has its mind set on £57 million new offices.

“The Audit Commission released these results last Monday, but the council leadership has still not told Waveney residents whose money is being so poorly handled, or informed many councillors.

“Every home in Waveney should be sent these ratings so that people can give their verdict when they next vote,” said Mr Blizzard.

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