Greater Manchester Councils React to Ranking Criticism

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Multiple councils in Greater Manchester have responded to recent criticism over a ranking that placed them among the “worst local authorities in the country.” The ranking, which utilized data from the Office for Local Government (Oflog), positioned Nottingham City Council at the bottom and Torridge District Council in Devon at the top.

In terms of regional standings, Manchester Council was ranked lowest at 279th nationally, while Rochdale Council claimed the highest spot at 57th.

The ranking criteria encompassed waste management, corporate and finance, planning and roads, and adult social care. The methodology defended its choice of categories, emphasizing the councils’ ability to influence outcomes such as timely completion of planning applications.

However, the ranking sparked controversy, with several councils expressing discontent. The Local Government Association (LGA) condemned the use of data as “inaccurate” and “ill-timed,” particularly given the pre-election period’s constraints on councils’ ability to respond adequately.

The chair of the LGA addressed a letter to Levelling Up Secretary, voicing concerns about the ranking’s validity and timing. The letter highlighted discrepancies in the data and urged urgent dialogue between the LGA and relevant government departments to address the matter.

The reaction from Greater Manchester councils varied, with most aligning with the LGA’s stance. A spokesperson for Manchester Council reiterated that Oflog’s data was not intended for inter-council comparisons, citing external factors like deprivation and demographics that influence spending disparities. The spokesperson underscored Manchester’s commitment to delivering quality services amidst financial challenges.

Similarly, Oldham Council expressed reservations about the accuracy of Oflog’s data and highlighted the council’s efforts to navigate funding cuts and cost-of-living pressures while striving to improve services.

Rochdale Borough Council welcomed its recognition as one of the top-performing councils nationally, attributing its success to diligent staff and dedication to public service. Meanwhile, Stockport Council cautioned against using the ranking to compare councils, advocating for alternative metrics like peer challenge reviews to provide a more comprehensive assessment.

Despite the varied responses, a common thread among Greater Manchester councils is their commitment to serving residents amidst financial constraints and external challenges. As discussions continue between local authorities, the LGA, and government departments, the focus remains on delivering effective governance and improving outcomes for communities across the region.

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
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