Gordon Keymer, leader of the LGA Conservative group, commented 'Effectively over£1bn of public money has been spent to tell us what we already knew (see LGCnet). The Audit Commission and government are portraying this whole process as some ground breaking approach, but most of us in local government a year ago could have made a list on a fag packet of which councils would end up where.
'It is perhaps ironic that social services departments across the country are crying out for more resources and the LGA estimate that there is a shortfall of funding by around£1bn - the same figure that has been spent on this whole CPA exercise. Perhaps the£1bn would have been better spent on this or perhaps conducting a CPA on each of the government departments'.
The following press statement was also issued by the Conservative Party:
IT'S OFFICIAL, CONSERVATIVE COUNCILS DELIVER BETTER PUBLIC SERVICES
Eric Pickles, shadow secretary of state for local government and the regions, today commented on the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, published by the independent Audit Commission, that showed that Conservative councils were better than their Labour and Liberal counterparts at delivering services for their council taxpayers. Mr Pickles said:
'Its official, Conservative councils deliver better public services. Today's independent report is further proof of what we have known for some time - that Conservative councils do it better, providing more value for council tax than their Labour and Liberal counterparts.
'We already knew that Conservative councils charged lower council taxes, now we are reminded that they deliver better services at the same time.
'The report also shows that the majority of failing councils are Labour run. They are ineffective and high taxing councils that do little to help the local community. This review has been a massive embarrassment for the government, at last exposing just how bad their failing rotten boroughs really are.'
Under the CPAs, 81.8% of Conservative controlled authorities were judged to be running excellent, good or fair councils. This compares favourably to only 73.1% of Labour councils. Of the 22 councils adjudged to be excellent by the Audit Commission, 9 are Conservative controlled - more than any other political party. Of the 13 'poor performing' councils, only 2 are Conservative controlled compared to seven under Labour control.
The Liberal Democrats, who as a minority force in local government run only a few councils, still had nearly a quarter of councils run by them judged 'weak' or 'poor'. Only one Liberal Democrat controlled council made the top category.
Mr Keymer said: 'I am very proud of what Conservatives are delivering in local government. Despite the high levels of inspection and bureaucracy placed upon them by central government, Conservative councils are delivering high quality public services to their residents'.
'To have nine Conservative controlled councils rated as excellent by the Audit Commission and over 80% of our councils judged fair or better is a testament to the hard work of our councillors. The government have tried to manipulate the formula, indices and rules around the CPA, but Conservatives have shown that whatever flawed regime the government come up with, Conservative run councils will always come out best'.
The nine Conservative run authorities adjudged to be excellent are Cheshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kensington and Chelsea, Kent, Wandsworth, West Sussex and Westminster.
The Audit Commission published an assessment of council services in all English unitary, London, metropolitan and county councils ( Audit Commission, Comprehensive Performance Assessment, 12 December 2002).
Correlated with data for party control as of April 2002 (given that these assessments are a reflection of past performance) it shows, that Conservative run councils have a higher average assessment ranking and a higher overall service score.
Control of CouncilAverage RankingAverage ability to improve scoreAverage overall service score
[average CPA ranking, where 1= Poor, 2=Weak, 3=Fair, 4=Good, 5=Excellent]