On Thursday, I was interviewed by an inspector from the Government's Audit Commission. Each Council is rated by the Commission following a Comprehensive Performance Assessment - in Darlington we have been found to be improving well, and delivering a four star performance (the latter is the best rating possible). You can see the Audit Commission's various reports on Darlington here.
There's never any room to rest on our laurels, however, and the inspector was here specifically to look at our "Direction of Travel" - broadly what improvements have we made over the past 12 months?
We were able to tell the Inspector that Darlington in 2006 looks very different. The Darlington Education Village is now open, integrating secondary, primary and specialist schooling all on one site. Darlington College has also opened in an iconic building in a prominent part of town, with an increased intake and a focus on health and inclusion. The Dolphin Leisure Centre refurbishment is nearing completion, as is the Arts Centre. With the pedestrianisation of the town centre and the proposed development at Commercial Street, the Council continues to deliver against its economic regeneration strategy. The contribution of the local authority’s social care services in maintaining and improving outcomes for children and young people has been assessed as ‘outstanding’ by CSCI/Ofsted. CSCI found within Adult Social care that ‘this has been another year of change and improvement. Developments introduced over the past three years are now providing improved outcomes for people’.
And that's just in one year. It's a good record, and gives a solid campaigning base for next May. The results of the inspection should be available in February.