Review of Council welcomed

Merton Council has welcomed the release of the Corporate Governance inspector’s report that found many strengths in the council and identified areas where improvements can be made to better serve residents and service users.

The inspection, carried out between January and March 2002, tested how well Merton is doing and its capacity to do better. The inspection looked at five key areas:

· Community focus
· Structures and processes
· Risk management and internal control
· Service delivery
· Standards of conduct

The report states Merton is doing well in its improved local consultation through ward surveys and local forums to gain a better understanding of local needs. Partnerships such as the Community Safety Partnership are also listed as a particular strength, helping to reduce reported crime in the borough and working well with the Drug Action team and Youth Offending Team.

Other strengths highlighted by then inspection team include Merton’s sound response to improving Children’s Services, an improved financial position, a willingness to address major changes initiatives including part of Schools Reorganisation through a £50m PFI deal and political leadership that has provide a clearer agenda for the council.

The inspection team also believe the council has the potential to deliver real improvements in services. The report states that Heads of Service are seen as managers with a ‘can do’ approach, Directors recently recruited have brought new skills and experience and developments in management training are engaging more staff in the change agenda.

Within the report, areas where the council needs to improve are listed and include the lack of an articulated vision for where Merton should be in five years’ time, the fact that too many priorities result in limited action and service delivery is not supported by a performance management system.

Chief Executive, Roger Paine, said: “Overall we are very pleased with the report. The many strengths highlighted confirm we are providing a good service to our residents and clients. For instance, Merton Link is given as an example of where we are providing a quality service.

“Of course, if we accept the praise we have to accept the negatives aspects as well and we will do so. Many of the areas we need to review and changes we need to make are already in place, but the report will help to define exactly what we need to do to move Merton forward.”

Councillor Andrew Judge, Leader of the Council, said: ” We