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New inspection model in the wings

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Conservative council leaders are increasingly confident they will be able to convince a Tory government to adopt a new inspection model within its first year in power.

The Local Government Association’s improvement board chairman David Parsons (Con) told LGC it hoped to develop a replacement for the comprehensive area assessment (CAA) that would be ready by the time a new government was formed.

“The LGA model is based around self- and risk-based assessment,” said Cllr Parsons. “We have been trying to get an alternative on the stocks, so we can just take it off the shelf if there is a Tory government.”

The LGA will now consult on its proposals and has aspirations for a slimmed-down indicator set, greater sector-led improvement and a reduction in the burden of regulation and inspection.

LGA deputy chief executive Jo Miller added: “The three main political parties are already asking whether the way we regulate performance is affordable and whether it drives improved outcomes across the public sector at local level. It’s right that the LGA should lead this debate.”

The news comes as discussions continue between council leaders and members of the Conservative front bench about future models of inspection.

Henry Smith (Con), leader of West Sussex CC and chair of the South East County Leaders group, said he thought CAA could be ditched within the first year of a Conservative administration.

“All the messages coming from the front bench are that they will want to move quickly, really quickly,” he said. “There are some real savings to be made. We want to see a lighter regime which is more relevant and less bureaucratic.”

Meanwhile, LGC understands Kent CC leader Paul Carter (Con) has tried to stir up discontent with the CAA among fellow Conservative councils.

One Tory leader said that while there was “a lot of frustration” around Conservative-run authorities, Kent had tried to engineer “disengagement” from the process.

Meanwhile Hillingdon LBC leader Ray Puddifoot (Con) said: “I have no interest in this [CAA] process at all. We are going through the motions of CAA, but more importantly we are listening to our residents.”

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