H&F has been awarded the Local Government Chronicle's "Council of the Year" gong, making it the 'best council in britain' according to the paper. As I said here in January this year when the Council was nominated for the award, this is now likely to feature as a main plank of the Conservative's campaign for re-election to run our authority for the next 4 years.
The judges panel said of our Coucnil:
"This council is doing something very special in challenging times. The whole of local government is expected to deliver more for less but this organisation is a leader. With a very strong leader and a clear vision it is reducing council tax while improving services and resident satisfaction.”
Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, the Leader of the Council said:
“In these tough times we are committed to providing our residents with the very best services at the lowest possible cost. Everyone at H&F can be very proud of this achievement."
Whatever you think about the Council credit to them for winning the award. But what I still find odd about the whole thing is the contrast between the way Stephen Greenhalgh is delighted to welcome this external ranking of H&F’s services but chose to speak out against the independent Audit Commission for having the cheek to carry out it’s own ranking of H&F’s services – which is what it is there to do!
Speaking about the tiresome Audit Commission’s inquiries into the way H&F delivers services to residents the same Stephen Greenhalgh said:
“Who cares what some Audit Commission bureaucrat sat in their ivory tower thinks of services in Hammersmith & Fulham? In all my years as council Leader I can count on one hand the number of times I have been asked what rating the Audit Commission gives the council.”
Well yes, Cllr Greenhalgh, but how many fingers on that same hand would count the number of times you have been asked about the Local Government Chronicle’s assessment of local authorities and where Hammersmith & Fulham stands in that assessment? Not a burning issue on the doorstep I would have thought.
The difference is that the Local Government Chronicle is a geek’s magazine about local government read by geeks while the Audit Commission is a statutory body that safeguards taxpayers money and assesses real-life service delivery. I know which one as a tax payer I care more about!