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HAVANT BC CAR PARKING, MARKETS AND STREET TRADING SERVICE

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The car parking, markets and street trading services provided by Havant BC are fair but have poor prospects for im...
The car parking, markets and street trading services provided by Havant BC are fair but have poor prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

An inspection team gave the service one star* because although the car parks are above average, it is inefficient and has no clear direction or strategy in terms of transport planning, sustainability and town centre management.

Bridget Downton, managing inspector, southern region said:

'The council's review highlighted many issues although the majority were internal to the council and few have been fully addressed. Havant must consider these issues further to produce an improvement plan which details specific actions. These will lead to significant and measurable improvements for customers and the wider community. We are pleased that the council has made some early progress with this and it is our intention to assess progress again in the future.'

The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths:

-- The community is generally satisfied with the service.

-- Car parks are provided throughout the borough and are clean and litter free.

-- The street markets at Havant and Waterlooville are well received by the public, traders and many local retailers.

However, inspectors also found weaknesses:

-- There is no clear strategy or objectives for the service.

-- There is inconsistency in enforcement of car parking regulations and information provided.

-- The services are not well promoted and information signs from the road are often inadequate.

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:

-- Provide clearer direction, more support and stronger leadership across and within services. In particular, develop a long term strategy with clear aims, objectives and targets which are meaningful to the community and against which performance can be monitored.

-- Provide customers and the local community with a more consistent and responsive service. Achieve this through tailoring the service to the community and providing clear customer service standards and information.

-- Improve cost efficiency and effectiveness by combining related service areas. This will help maximise flexibility and minimise costs. Also, review operations to ensure that resources are being used to their full potential.

The council's in-house team of 7.8 staff, manages 32 town centre car parks with over 2,700 car parking spaces. In 2001/02 the parking service generated a net income of£120,000. Street market management has been fully delegated to a not-for-profit company who currently provide four weekly markets at three different locations.

Copies of the report are available from Havant BC or on the Audit Commission website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk

NOTES:

1. The service was inspected as part of the government's best value initiative, which places a duty on all councils to deliver the most economic, efficient and effective services possible.

2. The inspection involved interviews with council staff and members, and members of the public using the service.

3. The Audit Commission inspection service was established to provide the public with an independent assessment of whether best value is being achieved by their local council in the delivery of services. Inspection reports judge how well a service is currently serving local people, based on a star rating from 0-3 where 0 is poor and 3 excellent, and how likely it is to improve in the future.

4. The government has placed a duty of best value on councils requiring them to improve local services over the next five years. Councils must report annually on their performance (best value performance plans) and review all of their services over the next five years in order to identify and achieve continual improvements in local services.

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