Book News: February 5th, 2008

This report from the Audit Commission presents a summary of findings about how well councils understand, engage with and focus on their communities. It also identifies what progress councils are making to address issues of equality and diversity. The general survey covers Corporate Health, Environment and Waste, Transport and Cultural and Recreational Services.

Overall satisfaction with local councils has continued to decline, although the pace of decline has slowed significantly. Average satisfaction has fallen from 54 per cent in 2003/04 to 53 per cent in 2006/07. This is an 11 percentage point decline from 2000/01. County councils show the largest decline, down 4 points, followed by unitary and metropolitan councils, down 2 points and district councils, down1point. London boroughs generally counter this trend to show improvement of two percentage points over the same period.

Keeping land clear of litter and waste showed the greatest improvement with a rise of 7 percentage points since 2003/04. Satisfaction with theatres and concert halls showed the greatest decline with a fall of 6 percentage points.

The national averages satisfaction results mask significant local variations from place to place. This variation points to a need for many local authorities to seek out notable practice and different approaches from better performing areas so that they can apply the ideas locally to support further improvement.

Levels of crime is by far the most important issue that makes somewhere a good place to live. This is followed by health services, clean streets, affordable decent housing and education.

The issues that most people want to see improved shows a very different picture. Activities for teenagers is the most widely cited improvement priority for residents, cited by 46 per cent of respondents, but it only features as an issue that makes somewhere a good place to live for 21 per cent of people. Traffic congestion and road and pavement repairs also feature highly as priorities for improvement.

The report is available from The Audit Commission.