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Anger over red flag report

18

ANGER is growing in Warrington over a new Government-sponsored report which shows the borough in a poor light.
The Audit Commission, in its first Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA)of the borough, has handed out three “red flags” where it is claimed public services need to being doing more if local problems are to be solved.
Only one “green flag” has been awarded for a service said to be innovative or excellent.
Coun Keith Bland, (right) chairman of the Warrington Partnership – a group of more than 40 organisations across the borough – said: “Quite frankly we are narked about this.
“The report doesn’t match up with what our residents are telling us.
“Eighty three per cent of local people say they are happy with their local area – well above the national average – and we believe them rather than the out-of-touch and woolly views of the Audit Commission.
“Our challenge to the Audit Commission is to come to Warrington and see what it’s really like to live and work here and to see all that is good about the place.”
Diana Terris, (below) chief executive of the borough council, said: “In Warrington, some things are working extremely well, like environmental management and public transport provision.
“In other areas, particularly around health inequalities and employment, we know what we have to do to improve but we are not convinced that the red flags match the reality of the good progress we are already making.
“The future will bring increasing challenges for us but we are committed to working with our partners to tackle them head on.”
Supt Jed Manley, of Cheshire Police, said: “Over the last 18 months, the town centre has become a safer place at night, with alcohol-related violence cut by more than 30 per cent and anti-social behaviour reduced by more than 40 per cent.”
Dr Sarah Baker, director of strategy and innovation at NHS Warrington added: “Tackling health inequality is a priority for NHS Warrington and we believe partnership working with all our local service providers is key to reducing health inequalaities.”
Warrington will be making representations when a national review of CAA reports takes place and calling for greater clarity on “red flags.”
CAA differs from its predecessor, the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) which was simply an examination of local authority services. The CAA looks at all public services including the council, police, fire service, health services, housing, transport, etc.
Warrington won its green flag for public transport. Congestion on the roads has reduced, average peak time journey times have improved and the number of bus passengers has increased from 8.4 million in 2006 to 10.8 million this year – one of the highest growth rates in the country.
Its red flags are for pockets of high unemployment in the most deprive areas, health inequalities between people living in the most and least well-off areas and safeguarding services for vulnerable children – the service which has already received a damning report from Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education.
*The full CAA report can be seen on the Oneplace website: www.direct.gov.uk/oneplace
See also: Opinion

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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

18 Comments

  1. Congestion on the roads has reduced??? The town centre has become a safer place at night??? Eighty-three percent of local people say they are happy with their local area???

    Wouldn’t one just love to see the evidence they’ve drawn these statistics from?

  2. Worked for me – at the secopnd attempt!

    Nice to see some of the media have jumped ont he bandwagon to label Warrington the “worst town in Britain.”

    This is totally inaccurate reporting.

    Yes Warrington has issues which need resolving, especially with Childrens services, yes there are pockets of high unemployment and poor health equality – but lets get real about this – there are far worse places to live than Warrington!

  3. The Daily Telegraph doesn’t know what it is talking about! There is no ranking system for starters! The whole report has been done so you CAN NOT compare one area with another.

  4. I am pleased to see Warrington Worldwide is sticking up for Warrington. This Audit Commission report is ill-conceived in the first place, but the reporting on it by the national press is even worse. Three red flags for the Daily Telegraph!

  5. Gary are the local media going to get in touch with the national media to get some balance here -there is no way Warrington is a worse place to live than Tower Hamlets or Glasgow to give only two examples -I also believe unemployement in Warrington is wellbelow the national average ?

  6. What is the point of trying to engage with the national media?

    All they are interested in is sensationalising stories, ruining peoples lives and making as much money as possible by selling mistruths and lies.

    I live and work in Warrington and am Wire til I die!

    I have had people contact me from abroad after seeing the news on Sky and they are shocked and outraged that our town is being shown in such a bad light.

    What we need now is everybody who has a voice in warringtont o stand up and be counted and come out and say what they are doing to ensure Warrington will bounce back stronger and better from this!

    That means MPs, councillors, sporting personalities, church leaders, business leaders – the whole lot of them!

    So some on everybody – put your name to saying the good things about our town which has a top rugby league team which showed Warrington in a great light when 25,000 of us invaded Wembley.

    OK we are not perfect but we are by no means the worst town in Britain!

  7. Ahhh we have a good rugby team….. That’s OK then, that’ll convince everyone that Warrington is a great place to live! As for the MP’s, those two charlatons are only now interested in their own survival and well being. Warrington isn’t a bad place to live, but when you see the report that Sky did about the drunken idiots falling up and down Bridge Street a few months back, and then this latest report on childrens services and add to that the Charlie Mullins (secret millionaire) view of his bug infested accomodation, run down areas and streets full of unemployed chavs; you can hardly say Warrington has been shown in a good light can you??

  8. Warrington is a great place to live and work and to be proud of, every town has its positives and negatives, however, the report seems to be aiming at the council on how it is providing services and is not criticising the people of Warrington, you can make statistics say anything, however you could always visit the website and make your own decisions on how the council is performing?…http://oneplace.direct.gov.uk

  9. The whole basis of the Audit Commission report is to say the least questionable.

    Unfortunately Warrington hit the headlines recently regarding the Ofsted Report on Child Protection but other recent independent reports have made clear that the town in terms of prosperity and economic activity is amongst the best in the country.

    Colin Daniels

    Chambers of Commerce & Industry

  10. It is Warrington’s economic success and relative prosperity that work against us. It is very hard to get resources to deal with the pockets of unemployment, deprivation and ill health when most of the town is productive and economically successful. Unfortunately the fruits of that success are taken away and spent in other parts of the country.

    Despite that, projects such as Orford Park, the proposed developments around Gulliver’s World and the kickstart housing in the inner areas will all provide jobs and training. Unfortunately getting rid of deep rooted deprivation and inequalities isn’t something that gets solved in three years.

  11. Well that’s all our house prices plummeting once again then !!!!

    Must admit that I wouldn’t class Warrington as one of the ‘worst’ areas to live compared with some other places although there are certain areas of concern here that obviously do need addressing.

    There are far worse places to live out there but I don’t the council members response to the findings is a bit weak and also not particularly accurate either.

    For example to say that ‘83% of local people say they are happy with their local area’ is somewhat misleading as unless every member of the public responded then this is merely a statistic based on the actual number of people who replied. It could be based on 100 people, 1000 people or 10000 people. To give a more acurate analysis it should read that ‘x’ number of people out of ‘y’ number of respondants say they are happy….. I would also like to ask which is the road that has won a green flag for reduced congestion as it certainly cant have been given to Warrington Roads as a whole. The congestion and volume of traffic is horrendous especially at peak times 🙁

    Anyway some good may come out of yet another daming report and things can only get better 🙂 Liked the quote about ‘Wooly Views of the Audit Comission’ though… bet they did too 🙂

  12. A red flag on health? Performance indicator NI 119 relates to ‘the percentage of residents who report their health to be good or very good’ Knowsley 69.4%, Manchester 72.9%, Halton 72.8%, Liverpool 72.3% and the Wirral 73.6%. Suffice to say that Warrington is the only one who actually exceeds the performance target of 75% with 79.4% of its population reporting they are in good or very good health. The report also measures the ‘Rate of hospital admissions per 100,000 for alchohol related harm’ Wirral 584, Knowsley 655, Halton 627 and Liverpool 752. Suffice to say that Warringtons admissions per 100,000 is the least at 540. Read the reports on the ‘oneplace’ website, compare the statistics and then try, like me, to understand why they ‘red flagged’ Warrington but not other Authorities?

  13. What does this really mean, why have most councils got no rating at all?? How is that useful to compare no flags against no flags?? Does this mean most councils doing nothing??

    Ps I’d like to ask my local MP Helen Jones what she has to say about her governments rating of our town and why haven’t you come out in our defence nationally?

  14. I’m a Wiganer that had the privilege of working at Warrington council for nearly 30 years. In my un-biased opinion – Warrington is a fine town, with fine people living there and many fine people working for the council. Contrary to public opinion, most officers in the council have both pride in their jobs and the town that they serve. As such, all this negative publicity and spurious headlines about the town and its townsfolk is totally unwarranted. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find that the actual report criticises governance and leadership rather than the town and its townsfolk.

    It is the politicians and ‘big-wigs’ in the council that generated a performance and award-chasing culture and, quite rightly, courted fame when things went well – and there has been plenty to cheer about in recent times. However, by the same score, these same people cannot scorn or reject independent reviews when they simply don’t like the outcomes.

    In many ways, being brought ‘down-to-earth’ a little bit may bring a hint of realism and some long-term good for these leaders and governors. It’s now down to them to turn all these negatives into a positive and get it sorted rather than to argue the toss. Let’s just hope this happens sooner rather than later.

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