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MINISTERS WARNED OF BEST VALUE DANGERS

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Best value in a 'naming and shaming' environment risks creating a siege mentality and low morale among staff, witne...
Best value in a 'naming and shaming' environment risks creating a siege mentality and low morale among staff, witnesses told the select committee for the environment, transport and the regions this week.

Association of Direct Labour Organisations director John Roberts said such an approach would risk alienating the very people a council relies upon to deliver good quality services. The ADLO welcomed the principles of best value but it was important to consult frontline workers on what customers want.

'Refuse collectors know more about what the resident wants than the men in suits,' Mr Roberts said.

Unison head of local government Keith Sonnet said: 'What our members want to see is a social partnership between the public and local authorities introduced in a way that is not over the backs of the workforce.'

'That is not to say we are putting our members on a pedestal.' It should be in the best interests of the public. Too rigid, centralist and detailed an approach to implementation would mitigate against best value, Mr Sonnet said.

The Local Government Association said any framework document should be empowering rather than inhibiting. 'Complacency should be the target of best value,' LGA head of housing Matthew Warburton said.

'An authority that recognises it is doing badly and wants to do something about it is better than the middle ranking one which does not see improvement as a target.'

Mr Warburton said councils needed to find better ways of sharing good practice while implementing best value without recourse to a national organisation.

The ADLO also expressed concern that best value would involve costly expenditure on consultants. 'Local authorities should be providing those services to themselves,' said Mr Roberts.

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