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SCRUTINEER-AN INSPECTOR CALLS

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Best Value Inspection Service ...
Best Value Inspection Service

Newcastle City Council

Newcastle City Council's library service is fair and will probably improve, according to a report from the Audit Commission.

The inspection, which gave the service one star, broadly agreed with the council's own best value review on the strengths, weaknesses and changes needed service.

These include more convenient opening hours, a better stock of books, more IT equipment and improved disabled access.

Positive features included the friendly and helpful staff and attractive presentation of branch libraries.

Lead inspector Mick Hannon said: 'The council has a comprehensive improvement plan in place and a strong corporate commitment to delivering large-scale improvement which should make a real difference to local people in the longer term.'

Benefit Fraud Inspectorate

Canterbury City Council

The administration of housing and council tax benefit at Canterbury City Council is poor and has been given a 'no star' best value rating.

The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate, which visited the council to conduct its first best value inspection of a benefit department, found a strong commitment to change and said the department would probably improve.

Recommendations for change were implemented by the council during the course of the inspection, they said.

However, in order to improve further inspectors recommended the council link the service clearly with corporate priorities, develop counter-fraud activity, and develop a system of performance management.

Inspectorate director Chris Bull said: 'Best value is a new area for us. Given our specialist knowledge it is a logical addition to our portfolio.

'I am very encouraged by Canterbury's response to this report and its commitment to improvement.'

Ofsted

East Riding of Yorkshire Council

East Riding of Yorkshire Council's education department has made progress in maintaining standards in its schools and identifying weaknesses, according to an Ofsted report.

The education service of England's largest unitary authority provides satisfactory, or better, support for schools improvement, and its day-to day services - particularly those for vulnerable pupils - are effective.

Inspectors said the council was particularly effective in support of literacy and numeracy, attendance, asset management, and support for children in care.

But the report identified weaknesses at a strategic level - in corporate planning and the communication of decision-making.

There was ineffective communication between the corporate management team and a significant number of head teachers.

Chief inspector of schools Mike Tomlinson said: 'The performance of East Riding will get better when it tackles weaknesses at a strategic level. I am convinced it will, and has the capacity to improve further.'

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