Headlines: December 21st, 2007

Dorset County Council has the most satisfied customers in the country, according to a new corporate assessment report published today by the Audit Commission. It finds that local people’s overall satisfaction with the council has improved over the past three years and the authority now has the highest rating of any county council.

The Commission’s report says that overall the council is performing well. It has a clear vision for the county that emphasises the importance of improving quality of life for local people by protecting and enhancing the natural environment and creating the employment and housing opportunities needed for sustained economic prosperity.

Rob Hathaway, Audit Commission senior manager, said the council was working hard to meet residents’ needs. “It performs particularly well in education and is working with partners to meet the future housing and employment needs of residents in a way that protects the rural environment and quality of life,” he said.

The report stresses that the council is not complacent and recognises that there are areas in which it needs to improve still further, particularly in its understanding of the needs of minority groups including migrant workers and black and minority ethnic residents. Mr. Hathaway continues, “The council is well managed and staff work hard to deliver good services. Its vision is based on a good understanding of the challenges facing the county and the needs and aspirations of residents. It is supported by thorough analysis of statistical information and ongoing consultation with residents.”

Dorset is praised particularly for the way it works with partners and its participative leadership style demonstrated by its role in the county’s Strategic Partnership, which promotes engagement with local organisationsincluding neighbouring councils, the police and health authorities. As a result the county’s economic development and housing needs have been recognised and have attracted increased funding from the regional development agency and the Housing Corporation.