STAFF at Kirklees Council celebrated today for a second year running.
The authority has again been rated an `excellent' council and one of the top performing local authorities in the country.
The national performance ratings announced today are from the independent public watchdog the Audit Commission, which carries out comprehensive checks on all councils.
Last year Kirklees Council was the only one in Yorkshire and Humberside to get an `excellent' rating - and among only 22 in the country. The other categories are `good', `fair', `poor' and `weak'.
Today's ratings confirm the council as `excellent and improving' - one of 26 in the country this year to get the top rating.
East Riding is also rated excellent in this region.
The Audit Commission says the council has built on its areas of strength, continues to deliver good services, is developing a stronger customer focus, improving access to services, training and developing employees to meet rising expectations, and is well placed to further improve the way it works and also improve the services it provides to local people.
Council leader Clr Kath Pinnock praised the efforts and commitment of the council's workforce as being the major factor behind maintaining and improving on last year's `excellent' rating.
She said: "This time last year I stressed that the council would not be complacent, or rest on its laurels, but would strive to get even better.
"This latest rating from the Audit Commission acknowledges that we have done just that, which fits in with the theme we adopted of `excellent and improving'.
"I would like to thank our workforce, our partners, and all councillors for the crucial part they have played over the last year in consolidating and improving our position.
"The ratings keep us towards the top of the `premier league' of local authorities. The challenge is the same now as it was 12 months ago, and that is to make sure we stay there. It is an immense challenge, but one which I am confident we will maintain and improve upon."
She singled out improvements including:
* Top marks from the Social Services Inspectorate.
* Better service from the Revenues and Benefits Service - a previous problem area - which has moved up to a three-star rating from the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate.
* Top local authority in the Business in the Environment Award for our Eco-Management and Audit Scheme work.,
* Attaining the Investors in People standard for the council as awhole
* The `Green Apple' award for Environmental Best Practice for a project to tackle fuel poverty in the private rented housing sector
Clr Pinnock added: "We are also making major investment in roads, schools and housing.
"These include £25m investment in special schools, agreed with our Private Finance Initiative partners and local construction firm Totty.
"And the start of a four year £145m programme to bring all the council's housing up to a decent standard.
"The funding was triggered by last year's two star rating of Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing and 80 homes a week are being improved.
"It is crucially important in demonstrating the council's commitment to strive for continuous improvement to pledge that we will not rest on our laurels.
"We, and our residents, know there is a lot of room for more improvement in the services we provide."
HOW THE REGION FARED
Barnsley - Fair
Bradford - Good
Calderdale - Fair
Doncaster - Fair
East Riding of Yorkshire - Excellent
Kingston-upon-Hull - Poor
Kirklees - Excellent
Leeds - Good
North Lincolnshire - Good
North East Lincolnshire - Weak
North Yorkshire - Good
Rotherham - Weak
Sheffield - Good
Wakefield - Weak
York - Good
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