Councils given top ratings

BOTH Suffolk and Essex county councils have been given the highest rating of four stars by an independent watchdog.The Audit Commission gave Suffolk an extra star this year, allowing it to join the other top scoring councils in the east - Essex, Hertfordshire and Norfolk.

BOTH Suffolk and Essex county councils have been given the highest rating of four stars by an independent watchdog.

The Audit Commission gave Suffolk an extra star this year, allowing it to join the other top scoring councils in the east - Essex, Hertfordshire and Norfolk.

Both Essex and Suffolk county councils were categorised as “improving well” in the annual Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA), which is published today.

It said that Suffolk's social care services for adults remain good - despite them bearing the brunt of £24million cutbacks.


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But there is room for improvement, with road upgrades not leading to better road safety and 11-year-old pupils not achieving as well as they should be in some areas at Key Stage 2.

While the quality of services in care homes is good, council areas not performing well include delayed discharges from hospital, domiciliary care and services for those with learning disabilities.

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Mental health services for children could do better but there are “demonstrable improvements” in libraries, trading standards, community safety, waste management, customer access and road conditions.

The council said it was “disappointed” by the lower score gained in environmental services, which it said was a result of the auditor questioning the way it measures recycling and composting performance.

Jeremy Pembroke, council leader, said: “We are pleased that the hard work of everyone in delivering high quality, value-for-money services for the people of Suffolk has been recognised by the Audit Commission.

“Even though we continue to face a number of difficult challenges around our budgets, this shows that we can still make a difference.”

In Essex, some areas of adult social care are making “significant improvements” while highways and transportation services are continuing to build on previous good performance, the report said.

But waste disposal is posing a “significant challenge”, despite the reduction in the amount going to landfill and increased recycling.

Lord Hanningfield, council leader, said: “Quality and performance have always been our priorities. I'm very pleased that our efforts have been recognised by independent assessment, but local people can rest assured that there will be no complacency at Essex County Council.”

The report rates all the county, unitary, metropolitan, and London councils in England by pulling together the results of assessments carried out by the Audit Commission and other inspectorates.

None of the councils in the Eastern region moved down a star category in 2006.

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