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GOOD RELATIONSHIPS BRING BETTER PERFORMANCE, SAYS BUNDRED

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There is a clear link between the best performing councils and those with good governance, Audit Commission chief e...
There is a clear link between the best performing councils and those with good governance, Audit Commission chief executive Steve Bundred has said.

He was speaking at the opening day of a new investigation by the Committee on Standards in Public Life into maintaining high standards of conduct in public bodies.

Mr Bundred told the Westminster hearing that successful councils are characterised by good relationships between officers and members.

'Poorly performing local authorities are often very inward looking - they often have the rules in place but do not have mechanisms to ensure the rules are complied with,' he said.

He listed the areas critical to high performance and good standards of conduct as mutual respect between members and officers, with roles and responsibilities well defined, and absolute clarity about what the organisation is trying to achieve.

He suggested that although the Audit Commission, Standards Board and Ombudsman all have different roles, new legislation is needed to allow them to share information more easily.

There should be a more proportionate and risk-based approach to the monitoring and enforcing of codes of conduct, but he was not in favour of different standards for smaller bodies.

And while there should be greater consistency in codes, uniformity was neither possible nor desirable.

The Standards Board, which has been heavily criticised by local government and MPs, said local leadership was essential in embedding the concept of high standards at a local level.

Chairman Sir Anthony Holland claimed the board 'proved particularly successful at responding to the needs of members and officers in local government'.

He said it had received 6,070 cases and referred roughly 40% for investigation since the code of conduct for councillors was fully implemented in May 2002.

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