The report, by the Audit Commission's Best Value Inspection Service, found the council is providing a reliable service to more than 900 children and adults who it transports to schools and resource centres on a daily basis at a cost of£3.24m.
BVIS inspectors surveyed the department under the government's new best value regime, which places a duty on all councils to deliver the most economic, efficient and effective services possible.
They gave the passenger transport department two stars (see notes) because:
New vehicles have improved the comfort and appearance of the bus fleet;
The service is prompt and reliable with better planning of bus routes about to take place;
Safety was well managed with regular training being given;
All drivers and escorts, including agency drivers, undergo police checks with regular follow ups being carried out;
There is a help desk for customer queries and all drivers carry mobile phones.
The inspectors found the service is also likely to improve in the future because:
There is effective working between departments, officers and councillors, leading to a clear corporate framework;
Service managers and staff understand what the council is trying to achieve and realise the importance of continual improvement
Further improvements are planned, including completion of fleet renewal, continued work on route planning and reduced journey times;
There is a commitment to review the use of taxis.
Inspectors recommended that to ensure these improvements the council should produce an updated action plan to make sure the renewal of the buses is completed this month, implement new shorter, quicker routes and monitor passenger journeys more regularly.
Andrew Webster, London BVIS regional director said:
'The service is good and the council is clearly trying to improve the right things, especially for users, as it has a good customer care record and is committed to further enhancements, like the use of taxis, which will provide particular benefit for some clients in future.
'We will carry out a follow up inspection next summer to ensure improvements such as better monitoring of journeys and a thorough review of the use of taxis have been carried out.'
The inspection of Passenger Transport services at Newham LBC is available from the Audit Commission website(summary at bottom of page).
The inspection of Passenger Transport services at Newham LBC involved interviews with council staff and members, and members of the public using the service.
The Best Value Inspection Service is part of the Audit Commission. It was established by the 1999 Local Government Act 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.
The government has placed a duty of best value on councils requiring them to improve local services over the next five years. Services must be delivered to clear standards of cost and quality - by the most economic, efficient and effective means available. Councils must annually report 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.
The Best Value Inspection service is responsible for the inspection of local government services, and incorporates a dedicated housing inspectorate responsible for reviewing local authority housing departments and services. The inspection service inspects local social services departments jointly with the Social Services Inspectorate and the Social Services Inspectorate Wales; and inspection of local education authorities jointly with OFSTED and Estyn.
A statement from the local authority follows:
John Saunders, cabinet member for environment, said:
'The commission's findings show that our transport is managed efficiently and that our drivers are dedicated and professional. We are improving the service so it provides even better value for money and continues to raise the quality of life for local people.'