Headlines: December 17th, 2007

Plans have been unveiled that will give local people the chance to make their views known on the priorities they want local councils and other agencies to tackle. The plans, published by Local Government Minister John Healey, will see residents asked for their views on a range of issues in a new Place Survey.

Under the scheme councils will have to seek views on policies ranging from people’s use of local services to their general health and well-being as well as levels of support for older people and steps to tackle crime. The Place Survey will also measure levels of participation in any given local community. Those who take part in the survey will be able to say how concerned they are about the problems affecting their communities and whether they feel the police and local authorities are tackling anti-social behaviour effectively.

The results will then be used to guage how local areas are performing against 20 Citizen Perception Indicators, which are included in the new National Indicator Set, following the reduction of indicators and targets imposed on local authorities from more than 1,000 to 98. The Place Survey system will replace the Best Value User Satisfaction Survey, which English councils have been conducting every three years since 2000.

John Healey said, “In handing greater powers to councils, we in central government have made clear to those in local government that local people should be actively encouraged to have their say on the key concerns in their communities, both at the ballot box and between elections.”

Mr. Healey said the Survey would be a significant tool for councils and local agencies to measure their performance in important policy areas and to gauge people’s views on issues that should be given top priority. It has been designed to take into account local
variations and gives councils and their partners the chance to pose their own questions.