Research Project

The Word on the Streetscene: Transforming local neighbourhoods
8 July, 2009

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NLGN’s latest report suggests that a radical rethinking of frontline streetscene services could yield new benefits for residents and raise performance. Councils should adopt street by street analysis of their streetscene services to achieve better satisfaction results.

The research, published in association with Serco and Kent County Council, argues that there is a close correlation between general satisfaction with an area by its local residents and with the level of satisfaction specifically on street cleanliness issues. With the Comprehensive Area Assessment introducing new indicators for public satisfaction, the think tank is urging councils to look again at how it conducts its streetscene strategy.

In particular the research found that perceptions of streetscene are highly localised and can vary substantially by individual streets. Satisfaction levels can be higher when services are delivered on a street by street basis rather than pan-ward or pan-authority. NLGN argues:

“Often, the relationship between the quality of local environments and perceptions of places as being good to live in is intuitive. However, delivering on ‘people and places’ will require a more strategic understanding of what shapes perceptions and satisfaction. We recommend that all local authorities give careful consideration to new evidence in this report suggesting that a ‘geopsychology’ of resident perceptions has widespread consequences for other service level activities and underpins the community’s sense of place.”

The report also recommends:

• Local Authorities should inform residents of the cost of fly-tipping – social, environmental, financial – and use imaginative social marketing techniques alongside tough enforcement measures to influence behaviour.
• Councils should annually reconsider how its local public funding might be better allocated to neighbourhood and community groups for ‘clean, green, safe’ issues through participatory budgeting or community kitties.
• The Audit Commission should reward authorities in the new CAA process who demonstrate a deep commitment to establishing new approaches aimed at widening citizen engagement in improving the streetscene. The reward could consist of a prize fund for those councils that used innovative technology and could show that within a set number of years they had
increased satisfaction levels and increased the rapidity of responding to local environment problems.
• Local authorities should consider auditing their entire workforce to understand the potential range of staff and contracted employees who might be able to contribute to a new streetscene oriented working approach.

Publication Date: 8 July 2009
ISBN: 978 1 903 447 82 6
Authored by: Giorgia Iacopini