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