County judged top performer by Audit Commission

INDEPENDENT inspectors say that Devon County Council is an excellent council and have given the authority a 4 star overall rating in its latest judgement on performance.

INDEPENDENT inspectors say that Devon County Council is an "excellent council" and have given the authority a 4 star overall rating in its latest judgement on performance. Inspectors also say that the council is "improving well".

The 4 star rating - the top mark possible - has been awarded by the Audit Commission as part of its regular Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) inspection looking at the full range of council services and overall value for money.

The County Council is also judged to have shown continued improvement over the past year and has demonstrated "significant progress" against key priorities.

All major services including those for children, older people and environmental services are said to be "performing well" and consistently above minimum requirements.

The performance in services such as libraries and trading standards is even stronger and well above minimum requirements.

The council is also judged to be doing well in managing its finances and providing overall value for money to the people of Devon.

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The report highlights that school results are improving and children's services are now rated as "good" overall. Older people's services have also improved including quicker assessment of the needs of vulnerable people and faster delivery times for equipment. Youth offending rates are low and recycling rates, which are now running at 53.5 per cent, remain excellent.

Welcoming the judgement, Leader of the County Council Brian Greenslade said:

"Achieving four stars is excellent news and just goes to show what a stable, strong and well focussed council can achieve for Devon.

"We are deeply committed to constantly improving and developing our services and to getting the very best value we can for local council tax payers.

"Our long track record of careful financial management and constant drive for efficiency means we have been able to focus squarely on what matters most to local people - providing the best start for our youngsters, caring for the elderly, and protecting our precious environment.

"This excellent outcome clearly shows that we have been getting the right results with improvements in all these key areas.

"These improvements are all the more creditable given the potential distraction of local government reorganisation which we have also had to contend with."

Executive member for Personnel and Performance Councillor Des Hannon added:

"Getting four stars status is great but it's not all about the label.

"Behind the headline there has been a tremendous amount of work to improve our services for the people of Devon and to transform the way we do things to be more and more efficient.

"This judgement is a reward for all the hard work and dedication of our staff and members over the past year. Our shared focus on 'performance, performance, performance' has made all the difference."

Devon County Council Chief Executive Phil Norrey said:

"This rating is the result of the continued hard work and commitment of the staff of the County Council.

"At a time of great uncertainty over the future of local government in Devon, it would have been all too easy to lose our focus on improving services.

"Devon residents expect and deserve the best from us and I hope that the four star rating provides the real evidence that this continues to be our number one priority.