A TEAM of inspectors from an independent local government watchdog have issued Blackburn with Darwen Council's policy, research and communication services with a top rating of three stars.

Best Value Inspectors said they were impressed by the way the council's "open door" policy involving local people and by the number of "good citizens" who participated.

Inspectors also highlighted the policy team, which works to deliver the borough's Community Plan as well as on the pioneering Public Service Agreement with the Government, as "proactive and well regarded."

The Inspectors found that the research team responsible for the Citizens Panel and the "Changing Face of Blackburn with Darwen" were effective and had good links outside the council. However the Inspectors did call for more detailed statistical research to better inform policy.

The PR and Communications team were also praised for producing good quality publications and for their relationship with the national media which has promoted the borough.

Coun Gail Barton, executive member for resources, said: "I'm really proud of the staff who have worked hard to gain this.

"A three-star rating from the inspectors is rare, but it is only a beginning and not an end result for these services which now need to continue to improve."

Coun Bill Taylor, leader of the council, said: "Credit for the three-star rating should also go to Councillor Gail Barton for her excellent stewardship of the services."