COUNCIL chiefs in York are doing well and getting even better, according to their latest performance report.

Improved school results, falling crime, better access for disabled residents and a rise in recycling are just some of the many successes recorded by City of York Council so far in 2006/07.

City of York Council leader Steve Galloway said the authority had made a "remarkable achievement" in meeting performance targets in most areas.

But Labour group leader Dave Merrett said resident satisfaction with the council had fallen in recent years. He said: "The Liberal Democrat council still has a long way to go. Residents' satisfaction of the council's performance is substantially lower than when Labour left office in 2003."

He said a council survey in 2003 showed 76 per cent satisfaction, but this fell to 59 per cent a year later.

The new report, by finance officer Janet Lornie and improvements officer Peter Lowe, said: "Overall, performance across directorates is either performing well in comparison to other authorities, or is improving.

"In particular, waste recycling, council house re-let and repair times, benefits claim processing, the speed of processing planning applications, and the key indicators for York Pride (ie graffiti, fly-tipping and abandoned car removal).

"The most significant improvement has occurred under Safer City, where a number of crime incident statistics have improved markedly, together with citizen perception of crime and safety in the city."

The report was presented to a meeting of the council's ruling executive. Coun Galloway told the meeting: "We are now a council which achieves top or second quartile performance in almost 60 per cent of indicators, which is a remarkable achievement, given that we are now, by some distance, the lowest-spending unitary authority per head in the country."

Significant achievements highlighted by Coun Galloway included:

  • The number of pupils achieving Level 5 in English rising from 28 per cent in 2005/06 to 37 per cent this year
  • The number of new homes being built on previously developed land hitting 94 per cent - exceeding the 65 per cent target
  • An increase in the amount of household waste recycled, from 16.5 per cent to 23 per cent
  • The percentage of publicly-open council buildings with disability access rising from 72 to 84
  • Resident satisfaction with the condition of roads and pavements rising from 43 per cent in 2002/03 to 51 per cent now.

Three stars for local authority

CITY of York Council is rated as a three-star authority by the Audit Commission, with high marks in most categories.

The commission has a four-star system for the performances of councils in various fields. York has a score of three for six categories; two for two categories; and four for one category - children and young people.

The authority's rating for use of resources is the only one to have slipped over the past year, dropping from three to two, but city chiefs today said more stringent criteria were a factor, and said the council was actually doing more now than in the past. The council's director of resources Simon Wiles said: "York has made improvements in five areas that comprise the use of resources. Unfortunately, due to the scale of the changes in the Audit Commission's scoring criteria, we have fallen just short of the mark we set for ourselves. We are already taking action to address the issues that the commission has flagged up and are confident that in a year's time we will have regained our good' standing."

Use of resources consists of five sub-categories, including financial reporting, financial management, financial standing, internal control and value for money.

Council leader Steve Galloway said: "York is still marked as good' overall in the quality of services and value for money that it provides for citizens. York provides the best value for money of any council in the country. Residents need to bear in mind that council tax levels are £112 less than the national average."