The leader of Wiltshire Council has branded data used in a national newspaper article that ranked the council towards the bottom of all local authorities in England as “total nonsense".

At a cabinet meeting held on Tuesday, May 7 Cllr Richard Clewer claimed the ranking made “an absolute mockery” of the Office for Local Government (Oflog), which “hasn’t got a clue what it is measuring.”

The Times used data submitted to Oflog by 318 councils across the country and put Wiltshire Council at the position of 298th out of 318 – meaning that only 5.3 per cent of local authorities are performing worse than Wiltshire.

Speaking about the article in the meeting Cllr Clewer argued that the data was not “designed to be used for ranking".

He said: “Government created Oflog recently to try and provide an early warning mechanism and assistance for councils that are heading into trouble, particularly financial trouble.”

He added: “The principle is good, but if they’re not going to use functional data, then I have absolutely no idea how they’re ever going to achieve that.”  

Councillor Clewer concluded: “They have made themselves look really foolish, they’ve fallen at the first fence, and if they are going to succeed in a role that I think, from a country point of view, is really important, they have got to get a better grip on the way that they are going to use information and the way they are going to draw information together.”  

The Times ranking placed the council at 188th for finance, 236th for waste collection and management, 275th for roads, 314th for social care and 301st for efficiency of dealing with planning applications.

Following the publication of the article, Wiltshire Council sent a letter to Oflog, signed by both Councillor Clewer and chief executive Terence Herbert.

The letter described the analysis as “selective, negligent, and context-free.”

It stated: “Wiltshire Council has been a firm supporter of Oflog, but we are saddened to say, as one of the country’s highest performing local authorities, our faith in Oflog is now dented.”

It also noted: “We expect Oflog to strongly rebut the article and the analysis as it begins the journey of rebuilding the sector’s faith and confidence in this vital public resource.”

Oflog has been approached for comment.