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The Audit Commission is set to recruit 200 best value inspectors during the next 18 months. ...
The Audit Commission is set to recruit 200 best value inspectors during the next 18 months.

In the hope of securing hundreds of inspectors on secondment from councils, the private sector and the voluntary sector, the commission is 'working closely' with the Improvement and Development Agency, the DETR and the Local Government Association, according to its annual report.

The demands of its new best value inspection role are a constant theme of the report, with commission chair Dame Helena Shovelton saying the structural changes required to cope with the work have stretched staff and commissioners.

The best value inspection service already employs five regional directors overseeing 15 lead inspectors. These in turn supervise around 100 inspectors in post, the report reveals.

Dame Helena rejected suggestions the sharp increase in staffing numbers would lead to a bureaucratic culture.

'It is a different commission now - balancing the regulatory and audit side of probity with best value has made for a different and large organisation . . . I would not want the commission to become bureaucratic.'

She said inspectors would not adopt a confrontational style but would be seeking 'a proper engagement' with councils.

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