FENLAND: Excellent rating for Cambridgeshire council in the way it delivers services to people
FENLAND District Council has become the first council in England to be officially ranked as excellent in all the ways that it delivers services to local people. It puts residents needs at the heart of all its work and staff demonstrate a passionate co
FENLAND District Council has become the first council in England to be officially ranked as "excellent" in all the ways that it delivers services to local people.
It puts residents' needs at the heart of all its work and staff demonstrate "a passionate commitment to providing services that are efficient, effective, excellent and equitable".
That glowing tribute is contained in the report that led to the council being the first to gain accreditation for "Customer Service Excellence" (CSE) covering the entire organisation. This follows its recognition as "excellent" by the Audit Commission.
CSE is a national accreditation recognising standards of public services. It replaces the former Charter Mark and is a harder test of the way a council responds to its customers.
Councillor Geoffrey Harper CBE, the council leader, said: "This is a fantastic achievement. To be rated excellent in any one of the areas that are put under the spotlight is hard enough; to achieve it across the board is extraordinary. And to be the first council in England to do that makes us very proud. Once again, we can justifiably say that Fenland is leading the way."
Leon Winston, the official assessor, said in his report that much of the council's work in delivering services "is viewed as exceptional and may be an exemplar for others". In many areas the quality of its performance exceeded the basic requirements for excellence and great efforts were made to find out what local people think and then to respond positively.
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Mr Winston went on to say that services such as the Fenland@your Service shops and the telephone contact centre were "outstanding"; they demonstrated "a serious commitment by Fenland to get information and advice out to where the people are".
"There is ample evidence to support the view that Fenland has made consultation of customers integral to continually improving services in all parts of its operation," he said.
Among the comments included in his report was one from the leader of the Foyer Project in Wisbech, who said: "The service we have had has been exemplary. I have had huge support and understanding in some very demanding circumstances."
A local businessman told him: "'"The staff give Fenland a positive personality - no matter who you deal with."
Mr Winston said: "There is an easy-to-use, and well managed, complaints procedure (3Cs) dealing with correspondence, compliments and complaints. Detailed analysis of feedback is provided with actions taken to put things right."
The council's interaction with the community was "superb", he said. He also praised it for the way it worked closely with other organisations to deliver what people wanted and for the steps it had taken to help people affected by changes in the economic and social climate, including travellers and migrants.
The report was produced for EMQC, one of the official assessing bodies, for the Government.
In addition to this recognition, Fenland has been praised by the Audit Commission, the Government's independent watchdog, for being one of only 13 councils to have made significant improvements in giving value for money.
Over the past few years independent assessments have seen its overall performance transformed from "poor " to "excellent" and it has won more than 50 quality awards, including being finalists at the prestigious LGC Awards in 2008 and 2009.