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The environment services provided by Harlow DC are 'fair' with 'excellent prospects' of further improvement, accord...
The environment services provided by Harlow DC are 'fair' with 'excellent prospects' of further improvement, according to a report released today by the independent Audit Commission.

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.

Ian Davidson, Audit Commission senior manager, said: 'In the past two years the Council has tackled the key environmental concerns of local people. As a result the area is cleaner and greener, and the amount of waste recycled has increased significantly. Services have improved: in particular the street cleaning service. However, the council has yet to improve public satisfaction with these services although it has begun to communicate more effectively with local people to help turn this around.'

Strengths include:

.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.

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