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Cambridge - Ambitious, Focused … Excellent

January 22, 2004 12:00 AM

Cambridge City Council is one of the best local authorities in the country.

According to the Audit Commission, which has completed a Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA), the City Council is 'excellent'. Placed in the top category, Cambridge now ranks among the premier authorities in the country.

Cambridge is the first district council in the East of England region to achieve this rating and one of just a handful nationwide.

All councils - county, district and unitary authorities - are being assessed over time and will receive a rating of excellent, good, fair, weak or poor.

The Audit Commission highlighted strengths in ambition, prioritisation and focus, and found that the council is doing well in most areas:

  • There is strong community leadership and the council is ambitious about what it wants to achieve for local people, in terms of managing the proposed urban expansion
  • There is strong political leadership which consults widely with residents to ensure that it can take note of where local people want to see their money spent
  • The local environment is good. The Council has been particularly successful in terms of managing traffic congestion, street cleanliness and the general quality of life for residents
  • Financial management is strong and there is good medium term planning to make sure the council stays focused on its priorities.

Reporting on key services such as Council housing, managing public spaces and street services, the Commission found high levels of service and strong planning capability.

The Council's listening skills were also commended. The Council adjusts it spending to reflect what people want. For example, the report said that when the public felt tourism was not a priority for spending, but improving public toilets was, the Council moved funding from tourism and refurbished the City's toilets.

Councillor Ian Nimmo-Smith, Leader of the Council, said: "The Audit Commission carried out a very thorough inspection. We are delighted with the overall assessment that Cambridge is an excellent Council. We are very keen to focus on what matters to people and go on improving services and the environment. We will work to ensure we remain one of the best councils in the country."

The CPA is aimed at helping councils improve public services. Those rated as 'good' or 'excellent' such as Cambridge, will benefit from freedoms and flexibilities such as relaxation from future inspections and more control over their budgets.