Blyth Valley BC
Audit Commission inspectors have acknowledged recent improvements to street care services provided by Blyth Valley BC, awarding the service a 'fair' rating.
The latest report relates to a follow-up inspection, after an initial inspection was carried out in 2001, and concludes that continued improvement to lighting in underpasses and swifter action on fly-tipping have contributed to cleaner and safer streets.
However, the report found that while the standard of street cleaning was 'above average', costs for providing it were too high. The commission recommended that the council research a more competitive way to provide the service and put it in place within two years.
Sedgefield BC's recent improvement to the housing repairs service has been hailed a 'real success story' by Audit Commission inspectors.
The service has been enhanced since a March 2002 inspection judged the service as poor, with uncertain prospects for improvement.
In the latest report, inspectors awarded the service one star in light of new customer-focused housing offices and improved tenant satisfaction.
Initiatives that have seen empty homes better maintained, wheelie bins emptied and fly-tipping quickly removed were also commended.
The service was praised for drastic improvements to repairs services, which include the introduction of a 24-hour emergency service and an increase in the number of repair jobs completed on time.
However, the inspection team criticised the service for costly practices, such as treating too many repair jobs as emergencies.
West Lancashire DC
Leisure services provided by West Lancashire DC have been judged to be fair by Audit Commission inspectors, but with uncertain prospects for improvement.
Inspectors gave the service one star because it addresses only some of the needs of th e local community. While recent improvements to sports, arts and community facilities have resulted in higher customer satisfaction, a lack of consistency and vision for the service was viewed as an area of weakness.
The inspectors recommended the service cut the quantity of leisure provision, but improve quality and give priority to parts of the service that deliver the most benefit to locals.
The commission also advised the council to develop a marketing plan so as to increase the number of people participating in leisure, culture and arts activities.