There is no doubt that comparing the performance of public authorities can be a useful part of the drive to improve service delivery. But the performance indicators can only be helpful if they are accurate, and once again they are not.
In the case of Newcastle, some of the figures are wrong, and could have been shown to be wrong had anyone from Whitehall bothered to ask. And the reason why the city has found itself identified as one of 17 "failing" authorities has not been explained in any of the press reports.
No one is pretending that everything in Newcastle social services is perfect, but neither is it awful, which is what the media coverage implies. A lot of work has been done in recent years to improve standards, and more remains to be done.
Finally, it is unforgivable for the Government to release these inaccurate tables without letting the local authorities know that this was going to happen.
Cllr PETER ARNOLD