Wednesday, October 10, 2007

IDEA training to take part in the Audit report into the council

A few of us opposition councillors had a training session last week on how the Audit Commission carries out its inspection into the doings of the council. This is so that we can meet them and detail our concerns, views and considerations in the best possible way.

In other words, we cannot just say "They are an incompetent shower and I wouldnt trust them to lie straight in bed/organise a piss-up in a brewery etc", we have to be a bit more thoughtful.

I have come away with a mountain of documents to read through about the last CPA (Corporate Performance Assessment) and questions to think about and answers to consider. It has to be done though, otherwise we are asked to agree to such statements in the council's own draft assessment as

"The council has provided strong leadership, stability and influence in developing that shared vision". Yeah right

"The Council has had a strong tradition of supporting the casework and community leadership roles of its elected members. "

This council fails to support me in my community leadership role, in fact quite a lot of time I think the LibDems prevent perfectly good officers from working with me, and Wendy, deliberately. And as for casework software, I am still waiting for some, having suggested we buy the Labour Party one, some 18 months ago, to no avail. I am still using a notebook, welcome 2007 and the modern age.

"Inevitably the Council has had to take some difficult decisions and demonstrate a clear rationale and leadership in doing so. This has included a significant rationalisation of school provision to remove surplus places and the modernisation of key care services."

Modernisation of care services? Took a hatchet to them, more like…..

I can agree with this next part though

"A strategy which has seen the lowest council tax rises in the country over the last 10 years has moved the city from the highest level of tax to its present ranking of 102nd. This has however (snip), left the Council with an increasingly challenging financial position. In this context it is currently seeking alternative mechanisms to fund the one off expenditure in 2008/089 financial year on the Capital of Culture to avoid further detriment to service levels or reserves. This remains an area of significant corporate risk to the delivery of the priorities."

I only got to page 6 and I have already thrown it across the room three times.

Good job I have had the training otherwise this early response that I wrote when I first saw the draft official response would be just what the Audit Commission was getting when I meet them later this month.


Jack Daniels said...

You might pay particular attention to their woeful ratings on Housing and Social Care.

Also see if you can find what the famous (suppressed) KPMG report actually said about the millions wasted through dubious contracts.

Jim said...

Try to get your hands on the Council's self-assessment (may be a few years old) and compare the two.

I've had a jolly old time with auditors over my own Council's CPA before this.

And it will get better as the CPA is replaced by Comprehensive Area Assessments in 2009. This aims to feature issues closer to the concerns of the local community as opposed to what the Council alone thinks. (Linking in with proper LAAs).