Waveney under fire over poor service

Vulnerable people in Waveney are still receiving poor service from their council, two years after it was told to improve. Waveney District Council's overall performance was rated as weak by local government watchdog, the Audit Commission, at the end of 2004, ranking it among the 50 worst councils in the UK.

Vulnerable people in Waveney are still receiving poor service from their council, two years after it was told to improve.

Waveney District Council's overall performance was rated as weak by local government watchdog, the Audit Commission, at the end of 2004, ranking it among the 50 worst councils in the UK.

Yesterday, two years after that assessment, an interim report by the commission revealed: “Performance has deteriorated in some key services for vulnerable people.”

It said the homeless and people in need of housing benefits were “not served well” by the council and that access and quality of services for vulnerable groups was “not improving extensively”.

The Annual Audit and Inspection Letter also criticised the council for lacking the resources, pace and vigour to achieve milestones and key objectives in improvement planning, and for letting politics stand in the way of service delivery.

But Waveney was commended for its “excellent” refuse collection and recycling services, its strengthening of partnership working and improvements in community safety, tackling antisocial behaviour in deprived areas.

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Its housing benefit performance was showing “early signs of recovery” after the council put robust improvement plans in place.

Council leader Mark Bee said: “This report pulls no punches and it challenges us to keep improving. There is clearly still much work to be done and there are still areas where it is suggested that performance has deteriorated.

“We have been working very closely with the Audit Commission so there is nothing in this report we weren't expecting.”

Council's chief executive Glen Garrod added: “What this report shows is rather than a council with problems, this is a council moving forwards, with one or two areas it needs to address. Once we get these right, the council will be a different place.”

He said measures now in place would show real outcomes next time the council was assessed but it was too early to request a new assessment to achieve a higher rating.