Public Sector: LGA research reveals poor perception of councils

Councils are 'boring and anonymous', according to recent research by the Local Government Association's (LGA) reputation project.

Public perceptions of local government were revealed on the basis of a series of focus groups across the UK.

Councils were also described as wasteful, distant, frustrating and unreliable at the ten sessions of ten people.

MORI research director Ben Page, who oversaw the research, said: 'Previous research has led us to believe that people liked their own council but thought the others were crap, but this shows that people are not even particularly keen on their own council.'

Less than half of people in London felt they were kept informed about what was going on at their local authority, and opinions are negative until people realise what a council actually delivers, he added.

Speaking at LGCommunications' annual conference in Liverpool last week, Page said the LGA will be asking all councils to buy into its five-year campaign when it launches at its annual conference in Harrogate in July.

The LGA will ask councils to sign up to a list of actions, including a visual audit of all council buildings, vehicles and facilities, to assess what messages they send out. Councils will also be urged to ensure the leader or the CEO is meeting regularly with local newspaper editors, said Page.

'Excellent councils are the ones that have a comms strategy, but not all do,' he added. 'If their reputation is to improve, the sector has to be more disciplined in reducing the variation of its performance.'

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