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By Mithran Samuel ...
By Mithran Samuel

Regulators, as much as the government or councils, will have to learn the lessons of partnership working to achieve significant improvements in public services, according to Andrew Foster.

In a farewell address to the Local Government Association conference today, the outgoing controller of the Audit Commission outlined a vision of regulation that was joined-up, proportionate and focused on improving services rather than auditing processes.

But he said his successor, outgoing Improvement and Development Agency head Steve Bundred, and commission chairman James Strachan would be seeking to take the organisation in this direction.

His speech immediately followed Iain Duncan-Smith's, in which the Tory leader repeated his plans to abolish CPA and best value.

Sir Andrew said: 'I listened with great care to best value going, CPA going; I wondered with baited breath whether the commission would actually survive.'

In a buoyant speech he said CPA had demonstrated the strength of local government, citing the fact that more than 50% of top-tier authorities had been graded as excellent or good.

He added: 'I think local government is leading the way in public service improvement. It's certainly superior to some of the developments I've seen in the police and central government and sometimes even in the health service.'

But he said there needed to be a parallel process to CPA to audit councillor quality.

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