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ASSET MANAGEMENT IN NEATH PORT TALBOT CBC

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Neath Port Talbot CBC's asset management is 'fair with promising prospects for improvement' according to an indepen...
Neath Port Talbot CBC's asset management is 'fair with promising prospects for improvement' according to an independent report published today by the Audit Commission in Wales.

The asset management service provides the council's asset management facility which involves the delivery of services such as valuation and rating, acquisitions and disposals, lease and rental management, property information and review, energy management etc.

The Audit Commission in Wales inspection team gave the services one star (out of a possible three) because they found that users are satisfied with the quality and flexibility of the services.

But the independent report says that there are some concerns, in particular there is no overall strategy for addressing the significant maintenance backlog. However, the prospects for the way that the council manages its property assets in the future promise improvement.

Anne Delaney, acting director, Audit Commission Inspection Service, Wales, said;

'Many people will come into contact with the way a local authority manages its property assets at some stage in their lives and will reasonably expect an efficient, high quality service. Neath Port Talbot asset management services are well thought of by users, are adding value and have adopted an effective team approach in responding to new development enquiries.

In particular, the council is addressing the need for properties to be managed corporately, and has established a disability advisory group to identify improvements of access to buildings. However the council has failed to secure the finance for delivering all of the actions within the improvement plans and there seems to be no performance framework in place to monitor progress of the services.'

The inspection report highlights a number of positive features:

Users are satisfied with the quality and flexibility of the service.

The service uses a range of groups to consult with internal and external users.

There are links between service activities and community objectives.

The service is addressing the need for properties to be managed corporately.

However, inspectors also found areas that the council still needs to address, including:

Not all service aims are explicit and measurable

There is no holistic approach to managing assets corporately.

There is no overall strategy for addressing the significant maintenance backlog.

The condition and usage of all properties is not known.

Inspectors believe that the service has promising prospects for improvement because:

The best value review has been used to make significant changes to the service.

Key building blocks to make a corporate approach possible have been put in place.

An appraisal of civic centre accommodation has been carried out.

Progress has been made on implementing actions, including improving knowledge about the condition and usage of properties.

Recommendations to help improve the service include:

Provision of a clear framework for measuring objectives.

Devising a straightforward, effective method to regularly inform users of progress and outcomes of service activities.

Developing criteria to guide management decisions on properties. Carrying out a rigorous challenge of the portfolio as a whole once the Asset Management plan is in place.

Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council's asset management arrangements involves the delivery of services such as valuation and rating, acquisitions and disposals, lease and rental management, property information and review, energy management etc. The full report can be found on the Audit Commission website: www.audit-commission.gov.uk

NOTES

1. The service was inspected as part of the government's best value initiative, which places a duty on all councils to deliver the most economic, efficient and effective services possible.

2. The inspection involved interviews with council staff and members, and members of the public using the service.

3. The Audit Commission Inspection Service was established to provide the public with an independent assessment of whether best value is being achieved by their local council. Inspection reports judge how well a service is currently serving local people, based on a star rating from 0-3 where 0 is poor and 3 excellent, and how likely it is to improve in the future.

4. The government has placed a duty of best value on councils requiring them to improve local services over the next five years. Councils must report annually on their performance (best value performance plans) and review all of their services over the next five years in order to identify and achieve continual improvements in local services.

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