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REGULARS - AN INSPECTOR CALLS

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Audit commission ...
Audit commission

Broadland DC

Broadland DC's overall performance is 'fair', but it needs a clearer focus on community needs, according to the Audit Commission.

Inspectors carrying out a comprehensive performance assessment of Broadland found public satisfaction levels were good and the council had improved its performance in benefits, recycling and planning.

It was also praised for making good use of its resources, having a committed workforce, and maintaining its aim of low spending and effective financial management.

However, inspectors said Broadland could not be sure it was meeting residents' priorities because it did not have clear aims informed by community needs. It also needed to improve its contribution to meeting housing need.

The council appealed against its rating but was turned down by the commission. It claims the commission has 'fundamentally misunderstood' how it works and denies it does not have clear priorities. It says policies are based on a residents' survey carried out three years ago.

North East Lincolnshire Council

North East Lincolnshire's housing repairs and maintenance service has improved, but there is a backlog of work, appointments are not always kept and there are no plans to fill empty homes, the Audit Commission has found.

Inspectors said improvements like a call centre for reporting repairs, and good customer service at local offices, had raised the standard from no star to one star.

Their report praised a more flexible approach adopted by repair workers, better gas servicing provided by a private contractor and measures to increase tenant involvement.

However it said there were no published service standards, call centre hours did not necessarily meet customers' needs and call centre staff were undermined by poor IT and administration systems.

The council said the improvements could be achieved only by a stock transfer on which tenants will vote next year.

Herefordshire Council

Herefordshire Council's management of th e new Supporting People programme is good but has uncertain prospects for improvement, according to the Audit Commission.

The programme, which aims to help vulnerable people live more independently, started in April with a national budget of £1.8bn and Herefordshire has £7.5m available for its service.

Inspectors awarded Herefordshire's programme two out of three stars, saying it showed a good understanding of local needs and had increased the amount of housing support services. The council had consulted widely and engaged with people who were often hard to reach.

However, it did not have procedures in place to ensure continued improvement.

The commission's chief housing inspector Roy Irwin said Herefordshire had introduced new services and was still developing its programme.

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