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SCRUTINEER-AN INSPECTOR CALLS

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Best Value Inspectorate ...
Best Value Inspectorate

Peterborough City Council HH

Community sports services provided by Peterborough City Council have won praise from best value inspectors. The sports service was awarded two stars overall with the community sports team singled out for particular praise.

The inspectors praised staff, especially those who encourage young people to participate in sport. A user survey revealed 80% of customers are happy with the service.

But inspectors did recommend a clearer pricing structure and improvements to direction signs and publicity.

The Audit Commission said: 'The inspectorate acknowledges these points have been recognised by the council, and we will return later this year to conduct an update review and maybe amend our judgment.'

Birmingham City Council

Best value inspectors have warned the recent outsourcing of Birmingham City Council's housing repairs service will have to make dramatic improvements to a poor service.

The inspectors awarded the service zero stars after finding the council had failed to use its significant resources for repairs and maintenance effectively. Its housing stock has the second highest level of unfitness of all major housing authorities.

Inspectors noted more than£3.8m was paid in compensation to tenants in 1999/2000.

But they agreed the recent controversial outsourcing of the service to two contractors holds out hope of improvement.

The report said: 'The nature of the contracts and the targets they contain should lead to significant improvements in the service although further strategic improvements through planned investments to the stock will be needed before tenants are ensured the quality of homes to which they are entitled.'

Council leader Albert Bore (Lab) welcomed the report as a vindication of the council's decision to outsource.

OFSTED

Middlesbrough Council

Middlesbrough Council's post-16 education service is improving, but remains below the national average, according to Ofsted.

Inspectors found the council offers a wide range of educational opportunities for students across most curriculum areas, but there is insufficient provision at foundation level.

The performance of 16 year olds in GCSEs remained below the national average despite improvements.

The inspectors criticised the quality of teaching and learning, saying it was below the national average. They said too many lessons failed to challenge students adequately and the objectives of the lesson were not clear.

But they said four of the five colleges inspected provided at least satisfactory value for money.

Chief schools inspector Mike Tomlinson said: 'The improvements made by the post-16 colleges are encouraging and the colleges need to continue to build on this success to raise standards to the national level.'

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