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SAFETY AT PUBLIC BUILDINGS IN NEWPORT

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Newport CBC building control service is 'good with poor prospects for improvement' according to an independent repo...
Newport CBC building control service is 'good with poor prospects for improvement' according to an independent report issued today by the Audit Commission in Wales. The service checks building designs to make sure they comply with regulations and is also responsible for public safety in relation to sports grounds, cinemas and theatres in the county.

The Audit Commission in Wales Inspection Team gave the service two stars (out of a possible three) because they found it to be effective and well thought of by users. But the independent report also says that there's room for improvement, in particular in developing an improvement plan for the service which addresses key areas such as performance and quality management.

Stephen Nott, director, Audit Commission Inspection Service, Wales, said;

'Safety at venues such as cinemas, theatres and sports grounds is a key issue for any council. Members of the public have a right to feel safe and secure when they use these facilities and as such we welcome the fact that Newport currently provides a good quality service in this area.

The challenge now is to ensure that the current high standards are maintained and improved upon, and for this to happen the recommendations of our inspection report need to be implemented. I urge the council to act promptly in addressing the issue of rising costs and falling income and in developing a performance management framework.'

The inspection report highlights a number of positive features of the service:

- It's both effective and responsive

- The service is valued by users in the private and public sectors

- It makes effective use of ICT

- The service is self financing

- Staff are committed to continuous improvement

However, inspectors also found areas that the council still needs to address, including:

- There is no effective performance management framework

- The service has a lack of clear aims

Inspectors believe that the service has poor prospects for improvement because:

- The council's own best value review of the service was limited, had narrow objectives and didn't review the whole service

- The council isn't using best value to drive improvement in the service

- The council's improvement plan for the service doesn't address the key challenges that the service faces

Recommendations to help improve the service include:

- A performance management framework for the service should be developed

- The service should establish a timetable for introducing an improved time management system

- The council should produce an action plan to address the issue of rising costs and falling income

- The council should produce a revised marketing strategy for the service

- Amongst other operational improvements, Newport CBC building control signboards should be displayed on major developments

Newport's building control service is part of the council's planning and economic regeneration service. It's responsible for checking building designs and work on siteto ensure buildings comply with regulations. It also deals with dangerous structures, public safety in relation to sports grounds, cinemas and theatres and issues conditions in relation to the demolition of buildings and scaffolding and hoardings. The service has a budget of£105,200 in 2001/02 and currently employs six members of staff.

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