Oldham Council is ‘most improved’

Reporter: Richard Hooton
Date published: 15 March 2012

Now let’s push on - McMahon
OLDHAM Council was last night crowned Most Improved Council at the local government equivalent of The Oscars.

The authority was shortlisted for the gong at the Local Government Chronicle Awards 2012 for the second year running.

And it just missed out on a second honour after being pipped to the title of Children’s Services award by Cornwall Council.

Judges visited the borough in January to see how the organisation is continuing to improve despite a challenging budget settlement and adopting new ways of working as a co-operative council.

Council leader Jim McMahon said: “This is a fantastic achievement and a proud night.

“It’s humbling to be recognised as the ‘Most Improved Council’ by our peers. It is confirmation that we’re making significant forward strides and, above all, that these changes are making a real difference to people’s lives.

“This award is down to the hard work of council staff, and our partners, who are all doing their bit to make positive improvements, and I’d like to thank them all. But with or without an award, we know we cannot rest on our laurels and must use this achievement as a positive driver.

“There’s no point in us being the Most Improved Council for just one year — we must aspire to continue and accelerate that improvement every year.”

Oldham’s move to become a co-operative council has seen the borough leading nationally on the adoption of a new ethical framework and a community dividend scheme.

An extra £2million has also been transferred downwards to devolve services to districts, strengthening local democracy and new forms of service delivery.

Oldham’s submission highlighted:

::Commendation from the Audit Commission for the speed and accuracy of Final Accounts as the fastest in the country.

::Crowned ‘Best City’ at North-West in Bloom.

::Halved the number of families living in temporary accommodation.

::Achieved an 11th consecutive year-on-year improvement in the proportion of pupils gaining five A*-C GCSEs.

::Provided self-directed support packages to 54 per cent of adult social care users — 24 per cent above the national target.

::More than doubled the number of drug users in effective treatment.

::Delivered 20 per cent more new homes than last year.

::Retained Green Flag status for all seven award-winning parks.

Children’s Services has gone from a “zero star” for safeguarding in 2003 to the highest-possible Ofsted ranking of “performing excellently”.

The submission for that award focused on the successful Behaviour and Attendance Partnership.

Achievements include an increase of 20 per cent since 2009 on the number of secondary schools judged “good or better” for behaviour, a 45 per cent reduction in the numbers of pupils permanently excluded and falls in the number of pupils with persistent school absence.

Councillor McMahon added: “Despite missing out on an award those who support the children of our borough should hold their heads high.

“Their shortlisting proved Oldham’s national standing in this field.”