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SCRUTINEER-AN INSPECTOR CALLS

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Best Value Inspection Service ...
Best Value Inspection Service

Blaenau Gwent CBC -

Blaenau Gwent CBC's highways, street lighting and sewer maintenance service is fair, but will probably not improve, according to a best value report.

Weaknesses include a rising number of principle roads beyond repair, and a 70% expenditure on maintenance, compared to 30% on planned schemes.

The report recommends the council determines a strategic view of the importance of highways and develops closer liaisons between councillors and staff within the highways section. If the recommendations are not implemented, the report concludes that improvements will not materialise.

Inspectors noted the department's good response to members of the public who reported faults with street lighting, and praised the effective management of work carried out by utility companies.

Leader John Hopkins (Lab) said: ' We will be looking closely at the areas that have been identified as needing further attention.'

Sedgemoor DC -

Environmental services at Sedgemoor DC are fair, but will probably improve, according to best value inspectors.

The service was judged to provide a high standard of cleanliness in town centres, main thoroughfares and approach roads, but monitoring of services was seen to be 'insufficient and unplanned'.

They recommended setting targets to bring service performance into the top quartile in the next five years, using new computer systems for data collection and analysis and reporting to members on performance.

Best value inspection service regional director Peter Wylie said: 'Sedgemoor's service is supported by staff who are committed to best value and ongoing service improvements. Considerable organisational change has been seen over the past year and the council's improvement plan gives clear guidance to officers on what has to be achieved.

Benefit Fraud Inspectorate

Kensington & Chelsea LBC

Kensington & Chelsea LBC's housing and council tax benefit administration has received a positive report from the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate.

The standard of customer service was judged to be 'very good', with staff making efforts to identify people eligible for benefits.

Inspectors found 95% of claims are paid within the legal timescale and commended the high level of payment accuracy.

The report found a number of weaknesses in the management and investigation of fraud work, but acknowledged the council has taken steps to address this.

Suggested improvements include the extension of management checks to all aspects of benefit processing.

'I was pleased the inspectorate approved of our careful checking of claims. The council is determined to see fraud investigations increase,' said leader Merrick Cockell (Con).

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