The report, by the Audit Commission's Best Value Inspection Service, found the council's building control service provides a good quality service with low costs, placing Sefton within the top quarter of authorities, nationally.
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 building control department two stars (see editors notes) because:
Service costs in all areas are low;
Most services have external quality assurance accreditation:;
The authority should consider bringing the same level of external challenge, when considering how the services are provided and by whom
The service's income covers a large proportion of its costs.
But the inspectors found the service is unlikely to improve in the future unless:
The building control service is better directed towards meeting the council's overall aims and objectives;
The service improves consultation with clients and the building industry;
It develops performance indicators to assess local priorities such as quality improvement, cost reduction and accessibility;
Introduces an action plan that clarifies priorities, allocates resources and sets targets.
Darra Singh, Northern Region director of best value said:
'Sefton MBC is providing a good building control service. An action plan has been developed to improve the service but it can only be successful if the recommendations of the inspection team are followed. At this stage we feel it unlikely that fundamental improvements of the nature expected under best value will be achieved.
The inspection of Se fton MBC is available from the Audit Commission website(for summary see bottom of text).
The on-site inspection of building control services at Sefton MBC 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. Councilsmust 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.