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REPORT DESTROYS PERCEPTIONS OF POOR PERFORMANCE IN WALES

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The Welsh Local Government Association has welcomed the conclusions of an independent study* which dispel the 'metr...
The Welsh Local Government Association has welcomed the conclusions of an independent study* which dispel the 'metropolitan myth' that the performance of Welsh local authorities compares unfavourably with England.

The study conducted by Cardiff University's Local and Regional Government Unit highlights that performance levels and rates of improvement are very similar in English and Welsh councils, and in some areas Welsh authorities out perform their English counterparts.

WLGA leader Harry Jones said:

'It has often been alleged, particularly by central, London-based organisations that Welsh local authorities perpetually under-perform compared to their English counterparts. This has been an irritation for Welsh local authorities, the WLGA and I am sure for the national assembly for Wales.

'We therefore welcome this research which provides valuable comparative data, conclusively dispels this myth and highlights Welsh local authority performance improvement in a positive light.'

'However, we are well aware that there is always scope for improvement and despite our better performance there is no place for complacency. Our universal aim is to strive for continual improvement and to deliver effective and efficient services to our communities at all times.'

Russell Goodway, WLGA spokesperson on best value added:

'This study confirms much of what we have long known, that the centralised bureaucratic audit and inspection regimes have penalised Welsh authorities ad infinitum, not because we have actually been performing that badly but because we didn't fit their preconceived, inflexible model approach to management.

'It is interesting to note that the report suggests that the reason our services are performing better than in England is perhaps because we have focused more energy on service delivery and meeting local needs rather than adjusting to centrally prescribed management structures and techniques.

'I expect the new Wales Programme for Improvement, drawn up in Wales for Wales, will go some way to redress the balance, introducing a more rational and cost effective approach to performance evaluation.'

The report concludes that 'Local councils, and other parts of the public sector, need to be judged on their service achievements, not on their adoption of the latest management fads promulgated by central policy makers'.

* The report 'A COMPARISON OF LOCAL AUTHORITY PERFORMANCE IN ENGLAND AND WALES' can be accessed here.

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