Launching the LGA's reputation campaign in Harrogate, MORI director Ben Page said having a good environmental record was more important to residents than good schools and hospitals.
He urged local authorities to prioritise street cleaning and other environmental services. 'Only radical action by the sector as a whole will reverse councils' image problem,' he told delegates.
Other recommendations included a visual audit of council branding, an 'A to Z of services' and a regular residents' publication.
A series of regional and national events around the LGA's reputation campaign will roll out this autumn.