Barnet Council has lost its coveted ‘four star’ status in the annual assessment of local authority services.

The Audit Commission downgraded the council to three stars because of its lower performance in providing culture to its residents last year.

The only other council in London to lose stars was Haringey Council, which was slated last year for its handling of the Baby P case.

However, in most other areas the Audit Commission upgraded its rating of Barnet’s services, noting that overall it was “improving strongly” over the course of last year.

In fact, according to the council, the culture rating was only downgraded because Barnet Museum had applied for accreditation with the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council.

That decision gave the museum a lower two star rating until the application was successful, with a knock on effect on the council’s overall rating.

In his blog this morning council leader Mike Freer said the authority had simply been a victim of the system.

He wrote: “A decrease in the star rating would to many suggest a decline in the performance of the council or the range of services provided but perversely, two thirds of our scores have improved over the past twelve months.”

Mr Freer said despite the rating council services continued to be “excellent” and questioned whether the system is an accurate reflection of performance.

Last year councillors consistently cited attaining four star status as a reflection of their achievements.