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HOUNSLOW GETS MIXED REPORT FOR STREET SCENE SERVICES

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The street scene services provided by Hounslow LBC are fair but prospects for improvement are uncertain, according ...
The street scene services provided by Hounslow LBC are fair but prospects for improvement are uncertain, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

A team of inspectors gave the service one star out of a possible three because while recycling rates are high, maintenance of local roads and footways is poor, there is low user satisfaction with street cleaning, and there are difficulties with customer access to these services.

Audit Commission senior manager Jacqueline Barry-Purssell, said:

'Hounslow LBC currently enjoys good recycling rates and customer satisfaction with refuse collection is high. However, highway maintenance of non-principal roads and footways is poor and there is low user satisfaction with street cleaning. These two services are a key priority for local people.

'Funding for highway improvements has yet to be secured and a number of key procurement decisions have yet to be made.'

The inspectors found:

* Recycling rates are good and there is high user satisfaction with facilities offered.

* Maintenance of principal roads is good and the council has a good record of utilising funding provided through Transport for London

However, inspectors also found weaknesses:

* Maintenance of local roads, footpaths and street furniture is poor.

* There is low user satisfaction with street cleaning which is in part due to the poor standard of cleanliness in council owned open spaces adjoining the highway.

* There are many telephone access points to the service making it difficult for residents to contact the right person/section first time.

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

* Establish a vision and a medium term plan for the service. Define what this will mean in terms of improved service delivery/outcomes that users will understand.

* Develop a more proactive street inspection regime including a framework for coordination and targeting of enforcement activity.

* Establi sh sources of funding to maintain local roads and footways.

* Publicise street scene services and associated standards to help manage public expectations.

Services within the scope of the inspection included street cleaning, removal of abandoned vehicles, fly posting and graffiti, refuse collection, recycling, highway maintenance and horticulture (including street lighting and street tree maintenance), highway enforcement, and associated management and monitoring arrangements.

Streetscene services are budgeted to cost £18.6m in 2003/04.

There is a mixed economy of service provision with a number of services provided directly by the council and a number by external contractors.

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