The Audit Commission‘s place survey was published the other day and makes good reading for Wandsworth, especially as they reflect public opinion rather than the results of an external assessors checklist. Basically, it’s what you think of Wandsworth.

Of course, the temptation is just to highlight what you might think are the ‘top two’: value for money and quality services. In both Wandsworth came top in the country – more people in Wandsworth think the “council provides value for money” and were “very or fairly satisfied with how [the] council runs things” than in any other authority.

But there were a number of other good results. For example, by my reckoning we came fifth on parks and open spaces – impressive when you consider we are an inner London borough. And overall 85% of people think Wandsworth is a good place to live.

There were the odd results. 37.9% of people feel they can influence decisions in the area, but only 13.8% of people have been involved in decision making recently. It would be interesting to see if we can tease out more information to explain why the first figure is so low and why there’s such a difference between it and the second figure.

And there are, of course, results that show there is work that needs to be done. Wearing my community safety hat I was astounded that only 11% feel they would know what to do if there were a major incident. When you consider the government’s nationwide resilience campaign and the strong emergency planning we have locally along with the disproportionate fear of a major incident in Wandsworth (the latest survey showed around half the Wandsworth population feared a major terrorist attack within the borough) it’s very surprising that number is so low.

But these shouldn’t detract from those top two. The primary function of a council is to provide quality services to its residents, so it’s great to be told by residents that they think we are number one for service and value.

It was great to have confirmation that the audit commission have, once again, given Wandsworth’s services a top rating of 4* as an authority – the seventh successive year our services have been given the highest rating.

It gets even better that we’re still assessed as ‘improving strongly’ and that we’ve got top marks for ‘use of resources’ (essentially, we’re good value for money).

But when you add to all that our position as the UK’s lowest council tax it proves that we’re not idly boasting when we say we’re number one for service and value.

You can read more in the press release on the council’s website.

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I’m away from a computer for most of today, but couldn’t not link to this story from the Wandsworth Guardian – Recycling crew find widow’s lost letters.

Essentially, and quite by accident, a recently bereaved woman had the letters and cards of condolence she had received thrown out.  When this was discovered she phoned the council and the crew went through around 1,000 orange sacks to re-unite her with the letters and cards.

It’s not the first time a story like this has been published, in which a council employee goes above and beyond the call of duty.  Some time ago there was a similar story which resulted in the retrieval of an engagement ring and more recently the story of an street enforcement officer re-uniting a woman with her stolen purse.

The recycling team – Nathan Hearne, Lee McSweeney and Mark Hudson – all deserve congratulation.  It is actions like there’s that make such a difference to people’s lives.