Public Sector – Best value tsarina to shake up services

Newham council chief executive Wendy Thomson has been appointed as the Audit Commission’s first director of inspection, a key role created to drive up national standards in local government services.

She will oversee the commission’s expanded remit for inspection which has emerged from draft legislation, with special responsibility for its role in support of the government’s best value regime in local authorities.

Thomson, who takes up her post in September, said: ‘If we get it right, inspection should be a positive force in the pursuit of best value and improving public services.

‘Our efforts should be judged by citizens’ experiences of local services and the culture in which local authorities operate across the country.’

Prior to joining Newham council in 1996, Thomson, a Canadian, was chief executive of charity Turning Point and also held posts at Islington council and at the Greater London council.

To handle its enhanced remit, the commission is splitting its work into three divisions. Its traditional audit function will be complemented by an analytical directorate and the inspection directorate, headed by Thomson.

Full details have yet to be finalised and teams of staff are currently being found.

Andrew Foster, commission controller, said that Thomson would be the driving force leading improvements in inspection work in local government.

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