On a scale from zero to three stars the Audit Commission inspection team gave the service, which deals with issues ranging from waste collection and recycling to planning policy and environmental health, a 'fair' one star rating. The council has done much to improve the local environment but it needs to go further and to improve the value for money of its services.
.The borough is clean and well maintained
.The planning service delivers good results
.The services are helping to improve community safety for residents
.The council designs its services around the needs of citizens and users
.Communication with residents and service users is improving
Areas for improvement include:
.Harlow is not as good as other, similar, councils at reducing waste and increasing recycling
.Some costs are high. As as a consequence the service does not offer particularly good value for money.
To help the service improve, inspectors recommended that the council should, amongst other things:
.take steps to better evaluate and improve the value for money of the services, particularly the waste collection service
The areas inspected included: waste collection and recycling; planning policy and building control; environmental health; street cleansing; enforcement; landscaping/open space and countryside.
Copies of the report are available from Harlow Council or on the Audit Commission website.