Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

STAR WARS! Chiefs Wrestle over Fall in Rating

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

STAR WARS! Chiefs Wrestle over Fall in Rating

Article excerpt

Byline: By SANDY McKENZIE

STAR Wars erupted in Eston Town Hall over the latest assessment by the Audit Commission of Redcar and Cleveland Council.

The authority has dropped from a top four-star rating to two stars.

But the Audit Commission says the authority is "improving well".

The loss of the two stars was attacked at a meeting of the full council by opposition councillors but council leader Councillor George Dunning said 10 improvement projects were already under way.

"We have much to do and many exciting plans to deliver," he said.

East Cleveland Independent councillor Steve Kay said: "What amazes me is how this can be portrayed as an improvement. Going from four to two stars is down, not up."

Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Chris Abbott said: "It is a shameful result after all the hard work of the previous Coalition to take the council to be a four-star authority which was 'improving well'."

Conservative Group leader Val Halton said the two-star rating was a disaster. "Labour is raising council tax well above inflation. Under Labour, residents can expect poor quality services at a high cost."

But deputy council leader, Councilor Sheelagh Clarke, said the results were from a tougher test for the period May 2007 to May 2008.

She said: "We have put things right. We have a new management team in place. Regeneration masterplans for each area of the borough are being prepared."

Councillor Dave McLuckie, Cabinet member for community safety, said: "The Coalition had four stars but gave a one-star performance."

Councillor Peter Scott, Cabinet member for resources, said the Audit Commission report showed services were excellent.

Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Darlington and North Yorkshire County Council were all rated as four stars and "improving strongly". Stockton was rated as four star and "improving well".

Stockton Council leader, Councillor Ken Lupton, said: "I am pleased we have retained our high performance four-star rating.

"However, we have many more improvements to make, many of which will be all the more important in the current economic climate. …

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