Suffolk Coastal under the microscope

IT'S a nervous week at Suffolk Coastal – with the council under the microscope.During an intensive week of interviews and investigations, an independent team will judge the authority on how it is performing and how likely it is to improve.

IT'S a nervous week at Suffolk Coastal – with the council under the microscope.

During an intensive week of interviews and investigations, an independent team will judge the authority on how it is performing and how likely it is to improve.

The four-strong team from the Audit Commission, with Mike White as lead officer, is putting the council to the test as they carry out its first Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA).

Every council in England is now being assessed under the CPA rules.

When Suffolk Coastal was given a pre-assessment in February, it was suggested it would be rated as fair in the CPA categories, and given a series of recommendations on how improvements could be made.

Council leader Ray Herring said these had been adapted into an action plan implemented in recent months.

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He said: "The CPA builds on the previous regime of Best Value inspections which used to focus in on one particular service.

"This new approach takes a far broader perspective and will measure how this council is performing as a whole across a range of areas such as the environment and housing.

"We have assessed ourselves using the CPA rules and we believe that we are a good council that is striving positively towards becoming excellent.

"We have given the inspection team a wealth of evidence to support our case and this week we will have the chance to show them that we are as good as we think we are."

Suffolk Coastal's self-assessment addressed four areas identified under the CPA:

n What is the council trying to achieve?

n How has it set about delivering its priorities for improvement?

n What improvements has it achieved and not achieved to date?

n In the light of what it has learned so far, what does it plan to do next?

Mr Herring said: "How we are ranked under the CPA process is important as the government has offered what are called 'additional freedoms and flexibilities' to councils which perform well.

"Although the government limits these benefits at present, this could mean fewer inspections, fewer plans to produce, and more scope on how we allocate our resources."

The draft report from the Inspectors will be sent to the Council on November 1, with the final report being published on December 17.

What do you think of Suffolk Coastal council? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the Evening Star website on www.eveningstar.co.uk

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