Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) Deputy Leader, Councillor Bob Greenland, has said focussing on a thriving local economy is more important than improving council premises, after statistics seemed to put too much emphasis on areas which are not important to local people.
The council has three clear priorities of economic prosperity, education and the protection of vulnerable people and wants people to judge it for its success in these areas.
Welsh Government released the annual National Performance Measurement Framework this week - data on all councils in Wales that measure how the council is performing and where improvement is needed.
This data has seven separate measures about the condition of council buildings but none that measure economic development, which is one of Monmouthshire’s three priorities.
Councillor Greenland said:
“We are making good progress in the areas we’ve highlighted as our priorities.
“As an organisation we are operating in a difficult financial climate and have to make some tough decisions about our spending priorities. MCC remains committed to improving key services and delivering better outcomes for the people of our county.
“We know that performance will decline in some areas as we focus more attention and spending on three clear priorities: education, the protection of vulnerable people and promoting enterprise and job creation.
“In some cases we have had to reduce spending on services. This is either because they are not priorities or because we recognise we can deliver a good service for less money.”
“All Welsh local authorities use the National Performance Measurement Framework to assess their overall performance. This helps public accountability but there are limitations to this approach. It is overly focused on measuring process rather than outcomes for people or satisfaction levels.
“It can also put too much emphasis on areas which are not important to local people, for example there are separate measures about to the condition of council buildings but none that measure economic development, which is one of Monmouthshire’s three priorities.”
The data shows areas where MCC excels:
· The best primary school attendance rates in Wales at 94.5%, secondary school pupils have the second best attendance[i].
· Primary school pupils have been assessed amongst the top performers in Wales for results at key stage 2 and key stage 3[ii].
· Supporting vulnerable older people to live in their own homes wherever possible. The lowest number of older people placed into residential and nursing care[iii]. More than 88% of the older people supported are able to live independently[iv].
· All child protection reviews were carried out on time.
· One of the top-rated combined composting and recycling rates.
Officers are aware that there areas that are not as good as they should be. Some of the measures against which the framework shows the council to be underperforming are:
· Monmouthshire has some of the highest property prices in Wales. A lack of affordable accommodation makes it hard to look after homeless people
· They have the second lowest number of pupils being assessed at Key Stage 2 with Welsh as their first language[v].
· The report indicates Monmouthshire carers are among the lowest performers in Wales, although the council says it’s doing a lot of work with people that is not always captured within these measures[vi].
The Wales Audit Office, have recognised that Monmouthshire has a strong commitment to change. This ambition was highlighted when the council was the only Welsh authority shortlisted for a new Creative Councils award run by NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.