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HERTSMERE BC GETS A POOR REPORT ON ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

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Hertsmere BC is 'poor' at managing and maintaining the public environment and has 'poor prospects of improvement' a...
Hertsmere BC is 'poor' at managing and maintaining the public environment and has 'poor prospects of improvement' according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

The Audit Commission inspection team was looking at how council services such as waste and planning contribute towards the aim of providing an attractive and sustainable environment. Hertsmere was given no stars out of a possible three. There is poor performance in key areas such as recycling, reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, keeping the area clean and some areas of planning. Public satisfaction is low, targets are not being met and value for money cannot be demonstrated.

Gary Hammersley, Audit Commission senior manager, said: Public satisfaction with Hertsmere council is low as it has failed to deliver important services to the public that contribute to providing an attractive and sustainable environment. Performance in many services inspected is falling and compares badly to other councils. There are a few pockets of good performance but these are widely overshadowed by poor performance in core services. To their credit, however, senior members and officers have recognised this situation and the council has committed itself to delivering improvements that will tackle the service weaknesses: indeed a number of remedial actions are in place already. We will continue to monitor progress.'

The inspectors found:

  • In many key areas performance has remained static or fallen and has declined in comparison with other councils

  • Public satisfaction is low

  • There has been limited engagement with users to ensure the needs of local people are understood and met

  • Management of performance is underdeveloped and services have not been well led or managed

  • There is no track record of delivering improvement.

    To help the service improve, inspectors recommended that the council should, amongst other things:

  • Tackle poor performance by providing s trong managerial leadership backed up by capable officers with sufficient financial and other resources

  • Appoint a strategic director with a track record of improving poorly performing services and the ability to establish strategic links between related services which impact on the environment

  • Improve the way it manages the environment by tackling poor performance in recycling, refuse collection, removal of fly tipping and abandoned vehicles and street cleansing in localised hotspots

  • Develop an action plan to tackle the areas of weakness raised in the inspection report.

    The inspection examined the strategic framework and service delivery of the waste and planning services. The 2004/05 budget for these services was in excess of£4.8m.

    Copies of the report are available from Hertsmere BC or on the Audit Commission website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk .

    NOTES TO EDITORS

    The Audit Commission is an independent watchdog responsible for ensuring that public money is spent economically, efficiently and effectively. Our remit covers 12,000 bodies in England, which between them spend over£100 million of public money each year.

    We are active in local government, health, housing, criminal justice and fire and rescue services and consequently have objective evidence on the overall impact of public services on users.

    In addition to making sure that taxpayers receive value for money, our aim is to provide impartial information on the quality of public services. We also act as a force for improvement by providing practical recommendations and spreading best practice.

    We are committed to working in partnership with other regulators and to ensuring that our own activities also represent value for the taxpayer.

    Further details about the Commission can be obtained from its web site www.audit-commission.gov.uk

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT ERIC LUDLOW ON 0116 250 4183

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