Wednesday 9 December 2009

Audit on Newham - What Was All The Fuss About?

Last week, I mentioned the indignation expressed by Newham's Mayor Sir Robin Wales because the Audit Commission's new way of measuring the performance of local councils.

And I need to make a correction and apology: the Mayor's anger and the Newham's Partnership Board's declaration that the process had been "a waste of time" was not because the Audit Commission had found that services in a number of areas were specifically unsatisfactory.

The reason was far more arrogant: it was because the Commission had failed to sing the praises of the Mayor's regime in the way that Sir Robin clearly believes he deserves.

This morning the Audit Commission's OnePlace website was launched and the assessment report (PDF) on Newham is about as mild as it could possibly be. It is hard to imagine why the Mayor amd his friends have wound themselves up into a hissy-fit over so little. It is extraordinary that Newham's Partnership Board has chosen to use such inflammatory language in receivng the report and has indicated it may join two Tory councils, Wandsworth and Hammersmith & Fulham, who have already announced that they will no longer participate fully in future "due to the excessive demands on their time and finances".

The people who have greater cause to be really angry are the borough's voluntary and community groups. They are supposedly a 'partner' in local decision-making but barely receive a mention in the entire assessment report. Promises were made by Adewale Kadiri from the Audit Commission that the concerns raised repeatedly with him by local independent groups about the way that are consistently sidelined would be listened to and reflected in the assessment. This has proven to be about as believable as every promise that comes out of central government.

Newham's Mayor and his minions are fortunate that those responsible for measuring their performance are so timid and pliable. But apparently, nothing short of a ticker-tape parade is enough for the Mayor.


Anonymous said...

There is no mention of London City Airport and the negative impact on residents?

What about noise intrusions to school lessons?. As for jobs, Newham Council says the airport will brings lots of the josb, but the airport has failed to meet any jobs targets.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post Kevin; hope you'll not mind if I refer to it on my blog.

I have always found it baffling that the Mayor does not include the voluntary and community sector more in his decision making process.

It is evident that Wales sees the role of Mayor as a showcase for an individual rather than as a facilitator for the wider Newham community to actually control the service provision afforded to them by the council et al.

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