A REPORT into Barnsley Council’s work carried out by the Local Government Association has praised the ‘high-performing’ authority’s work.

A team of officers from the LGA spent four days in the town in February and looked at areas including the council’s leadership, financial planning and its capacity to deliver its objectives.

Additionally, the council asked for two other parts of its plan to be assessed - future ambitions and its approach to delivering special education needs and disability (SEND) services.

The report said: “Barnsley Council is a high-performing council with clear and tangible ambitions for its residents, communities and stakeholders.

“It is well-led, both politically and managerially, and its leaders are widely respected for the improvement they have brought to the organisation and its services through their working partnership over the last seven years.

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“There is a clear pride in working for Barnsley, both as an organisation and in serving communities and the town. Staff feel valued and enjoy working for the council, and also feel invested in.

“The council is clearly delivering against its ambitions. The Building Schools for the Future programme transformed school buildings across the borough and this has had a positive impact on educational achievement for children in Barnsley where performance on some measures has begun to exceed national averages.

“The regeneration of the town centre, including shopping and public realm improvements at a cost of £180m, is being underpinned by council funding, achieved through years of forward-thinking and careful financial management, and a positive attitude towards risk.

“At the same time, it has not neglected its neighbourhoods, having established an effective programme aimed at improving both the physical and social environment of the areas outside the town centre through devolved service delivery and smaller scale investment in its smaller towns through its ‘Principal Towns’ initiative. This has been achieved in the face of a degree of austerity which is greater than that which many other councils have had to confront.”

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton told the Chronicle the report was a ‘tremendous achievement’ amid hard-hitting budget cuts.

“It’s an accolade for the whole borough,” he added. “We’ve been hit harder than every other local authority so the fact that we’re one of the best-performing financially is particularly gratifying.

“Barnsley’s six area councils have also played a key role in our success as they have their own budgets and where that money is spent is very much geared from local opinion.”