The ups and downs of government

We had what appeared to be a peculiar result on the last customer satisfaction survey. Satisfaction with our individual services went up, but overall satisfaction with the council s performance went down. Last week, I was able to compare notes with other

We had what appeared to be a peculiar result on the last customer satisfaction survey. Satisfaction with our individual services went up, but overall satisfaction with the council's performance went down.

Last week, I was able to compare notes with other council leaders at the County Councils Network meeting, in London. Together, we think we have got to the bottom of it.

The questions have always had to be agreed by the Audit Commission to check that they are not loaded, that they do not suggest a favourable answer.

However, whereas last time round we enclosed a factual leaflet explaining which level of local government was responsible for which service, this year that was banned by the Audit Commission.

The same questions were asked for each level of local government; so it should come as not surprise to find that we got very poor marks from the public for what we did towards theatres and leisure centres. Not surprising, as we do nothing in that field. It is all down to district and town councils. Presumably, town councils got a pretty poor score for their education services!

The County Councils Network, at my suggestion, will be writing to the Audit Commission to point out this blinding glimpse of the obvious and suggest that the arrangements be changed for the next survey.

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