Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Good Marks Send London Boroughs to Top of the Class

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Good Marks Send London Boroughs to Top of the Class

Article excerpt

Byline: ROSS LYDALL

TWO London councils are among the five best in the country, annual league tables reveal today.

Wandsworth and Kensington & Chelsea have been rated by the Audit Commission, the local government watchdog, as " improving strongly" and achieving four out of four stars.

Both are run by longestablished Conservative administrations and Wandsworth currently sets the lowest council tax in the capital at [pounds sterling]610 for a benchmark band-D property.

Londoners are said to have some of the best councils in England, with every one of the 33 boroughs improving on their performance last year - despite a toughening of the commission's assessments.

It now checks on value for money to council taxpayers as well as the quality of services provided. The Corporation of London and Wandsworth were two of only three authorities to score top marks in this category.

This is a major boost to the Corporation, the independently-run local authority for the Square Mile and the wealthiest council in Britain, in a year when it was heavily criticised for introducing charges to swim in the lakes on Hampstead Heath.

London's worst performer is Labour-run Waltham Forest, which gets only one star and whose ability to improve is under review.

Hackney, run by directly elected Labour mayor Jules Pipe, also gets one star but is judged to be "improving adequately".

Other notable scores include Islington's. Once a byword for inefficiency and scandal, the borough gets three stars and is improving well.

This comes at a time when its Liberal Democrat leader Steve Hitchins remains under investigation by the Standards Board for England for alleged "cronyism".

The inquiry has so far lasted three and a half years.

Meanwhile, there is embarrassment for the capital's "model" Tory and Labour boroughs, Westminster and Camden. Both drop out of the elite top category.

No London council was assessed as "not improving adequately" and for the second year in a row none got zero stars.

The league tables are based on Comprehensive Performance Assessments carried out by the commission. …

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