Local Authority Responses

40 Local Authority Councillors responded to the survey on the impacts of austerity measures on local services.

Click here to view the results of the Local Authority survey

Q1.    Compared to 3 years ago how would you rate current public services?

Much better  0%
Slightly better  12.8%
Unchanged  25.6%
Slightly worse  46.2%
Much worse  15.4%

In respect of specific services, how have these changed over the last 3 years?

  Much Better Slightly Better Unchanged Slightly Worse Much Worse Don't Know
Recycling Collection 15.0% 20.0% 52.5% 7.5% 5.0% -
Parks and open Spaces 2.6% 10.5% 60.5% 18.4% 2.6% 5.3%
GP Surgeries 5.0% 10.0% 47.5% 22.5% 10.0% 5.0%
Refuse Collection 10.0% 17.5% 65.0% 7.5% - -
Local Hospitals - 15.8% 47.4% 21.1% 10.5% 5.3%
Schools and Colleges - 23.7% 47.4% 10.5% - 18.4%
Bus Services - 10.0% 20.0% 32.5% 22.5% 15.0%
Street Lighting 2.6% 10.3% 53.8% 23.1% 7.7% 2.6%
Libraries 2.6% 5.3% 47.4% 21.1% 7.9% 15.8%
Street cleaning 2.6% 10.3% 53.8% 23.1% 7.7% 2.6%
Police - 10.0% 27.5% 35.0% 25.0% 2.5%
Care for the elderly - 8.1% 10.8% 27.0% 8.1% 45.9%
Road Maintenance 5.1% 12.8% 12.8% 30.8% 33.3% 5.1%
Meals on wheels - - 8.8% 5.9% 5.9% 79.4%
Social Services - 2.6% 28.2% 23.1% 2.6% 43.6%
Housing Advice Services 2.7% 5.4% 27.0% 8.1% - 56.8%
Planning Services - 15.0% 32.5% 22.5% 17.5% 12.5%
Environmental Health Services 2.6% 7.9% 55.3% 7.9% - 26.3%
Sport and Leisure Facilities 5.3% 7.9% 52.6% 18.4% 2.6% 13.2%

    Respondent were asked whether they used the list of services above. The responses below therefore show the same areas of service with responses from the users of the services:

  Much Better Slightly Better Unchanged Slightly Worse Much Worse Don't Know
Recycling Collection 15.4% 20.5% 51.3% 7.7% 5.1% -
Parks and open Spaces 3.0% 12.1% 60.6% 18.2% 3.0% 3.0%
GP Surgeries 5.4% 10.8% 45.9% 24.3% 10.8% 2.7%
Refuse Collection 10.3% 17.9% 64.1% 7.7% - -
Local Hospitals - 15.6% 46.9% 21.9% 12.5% 3.1%
Schools and Colleges - 31.3% 50.0% 12.5% - 6.3%
Bus Services - 16.7% 16.7% 27.8% 38.9% -
Street Lighting 3.0% 12.1% 54.5% 21.2% 9.1% -
Libraries 3.6% 3.6% 57.1% 17.9% 10.7% 7.1%
Street cleaning 3.1% 6.3% 56.3% 21.9% 9.4% 3.1%
Police - 14.8% 18.5% 29.6% 37.0% -
Care for the elderly - 16.7% - 33.3% 25.0% 25.0%
Road Maintenance 5.6% 8.3% 13.9% 30.6% 36.1% 5.6%
Meals on wheels - - - - - -
Social Services - - 50.0% 50.0% - -
Housing Advice Services - - 50.0% - - 50.0%
Planning Services - 16.7% 29.2% 25.0% 20.8% 8.3%
Environmental Health Services 4.8% 4.8% 66.7% 14.3% - 9.5%
Sport and Leisure Facilities 8.7% 8.7% 65.2% 8.7% 4.3% 4.3%


Q3.    Have you noticed any changes in the accessibility of services provided by your local Council(s) over the last 3 years in terms of:

(NB respondents could choose both yes and no in all elements of Q3 to signify some services where there are cuts, and some where there are not resulted in figures >100%)

a)    The opening times when a service is available:

Yes - Longer hours
Yes - Shorter hours 31.6%
No Change 63.2%

Shorter Hours included:
•    Library reduced opening hours x2
•    Shorter hours at Sort It Centre
•    Complex Customer access often miss connection to relevant officer
•    Many services discontinued

Longer hours included:
•    Introduction of electronic communications extends hours when things can be done


b)    How frequently a service is provided:

Yes - More often
Yes - less often
No Change 57.5%

Less often comments included:
•    Not enough staff
•    Library reduced opening
•    Road maintenance decreased
•    As staff are becoming less in number they each have to do more which means that for example in the care services it is harder to see a professional. Also as they are being put under more pressure the rates of sickness absence are increasing and with recruitment and retention being a big issue temporary staff are being brought in at additional cost.'


c)    The location from which services are provided?

Yes - Wider range of locations
Yes - Smaller range of locations
No Change  55.0%

Smaller range of locations included:

•    Locations are worse
•    Police Station is now only one in district
•    Centralisation and less local knowledge
•    Libraries and youth centres closed
•    As Council buildings are being sold to bring in funding, the venues are becoming further from the communities they serve

d)    The charges made for particular services?

Yes - Increased Charges
Yes - Decreased Charges
No Change  61.5%

 Increased charges included:
•    Increase in all council charges and fees
•    Planning fees
•    Charges for services are having to increase to balance the books

Q4.    Please list the three most significant impacts of changes in service provision affecting your local area over the last 3 years.

There were a range of responses to this question which can be collated into four main areas

Negative Impact Issues with Roads
Increased thresholds for adult social services and mental health services with little provision for low to intermediate need (early intervention) leading to more crises and unsustainable potential long term costs.
Much better identification of families in need of children's centres support (through Troubled Families Programme and (Halcon) One Team working) but insufficient frontline staff to deliver early help (to then reduce demand on 'inadequate' acute services.
Library Services
Threatened library closure
Poor play provision
Closure of community compost site
Weaker local planning
Cost of care provision increasingly hitting the most vulnerable, particularly in rural areas
Availability of Doctors
Minor injuries unit no evening or w/e cover community hospital
Move to online services penalises those without internet connection
Move to commissioned service provision has lost continuity established with LA departments over years
'Outside providers' have to be paid for
Planning services overridden by Government legislation so too many new houses in the wrong place
Electorate don't trust local councillors are they are comparing them to MP's
Library hours reduced
Long waiting lists for GP appointments
No county general youth service
Some libraries closed
Promises on broadband not being met
Parks not as well kept
Planning services under greater pressure due to government legislation
Rural Bus Services including home to school transport
Removal of bus service
Few road repairs
Less Rural transport
Reduced road maintenance
Reduced grass cutting and weeding of roadside verges
Poor road maintenance
Poor highways planning advice
Less on road service
Less verge cutting
Bus services cut increasing social isolation
Street lighting
Road repairs less frequent
Frequency reductions in bus services especially to hospital
Failure to clear litter and overgrown foliage from public spaces and footpaths
Highways maintenance
County Council removal of bus subsidies and removal of post 16 school transport – hard on rural areas
Poor highways response to pot holes repairs
Declining bus services
Maintenance of roads seriously affected
Bus services curtailed
Road maintenance slightly better
 Positive Impact  Additional Charges
Halcon One Team model of coordinated existing multiagency frontline staff working in disadvantaged areas sharing information and between them providing a more responsive, efficient and effective problem solving approach addressing issues which underpin historic deprivation.
New planning rurles in local plan will improve local participation
Better waste and recycling service
Library now community run
More recycling
£30m removed from LA budget over last 4 years – fortunately little impact on front line provision
Improved refuse collection
Threat of library closure and steps to transfer to community run service
Rural Policing / Rare police presence
Drastically reduced police services
Reduction in number of police stations
Continuing reduction in dedicated police officers with local knowledge
Less police officers visible
Policing much worse especially in rural areas

Q5)    Looking forward are you aware of any planned changes to local services that have yet to be implemented?

67% responded yes to this question and below are their responses in more detail.

10% reduction to SLAs and small grants to the Voluntary & Community Sector, businesses and the arts; increasing charge of green waste disposal to cover costs; second class postage; charging for all but one remaining free car parks; creating an hourly rate car parking tariff for all car parks to rebalance use and promote two park and rides for workers to free-up town centre car parks for shoppers; implement charges for blue badge holders; increase cremation fees; no increase to members allowances.
We have already cut our costs through back office efficiencies and are already part way through rationalisation of assets and hope to become part of a single public sector hub; have started building new council housing as we own our stock (low wage, low unemployment but high property value area); now have successful coordinated frontline one team multiagency service delivery in three areas of high deprivation; plan to transform service delivery across the council in the next four years to protect frontline services; simplify process, focus on outcomes supported by the necessary IT (learning from the Eastbourne model).
We want to continue to deliver non statutory services valued by the public such as grass cutting, street cleaning, dog bins, homeless support, affordable housing, AONB service whose benefits aren't always quantifiable but make a big difference to overall health and wellbeing. We want to be more business like then reinvest in improved delivery of services and greater energy efficiency, more like a social enterprise.
We have a Core Strategy in place and a Site Allocations Document with the inspector and more than a five year supply of building land. We plan for sustainable development with employment led housing and want to improve on our 78% of area who work in the county town already.
Further reduction in rural bus services
Introduction of collection points in residential areas for household waste.
Reduction of staff in every council department.
Threatened closure of branch GP surgery
New planning regulations in local plan will be on the whole positive.
Further reduction in police services further reduction in road and verge maintenance
Cuts in support for emergency help for elderly people.
Less rural buses
Financial constraints on all Councils will oblige Councils to find even more savings. Councils will find themselves concentrating on their duties while retreating from work which they have powers only. Most Councils will do their best to keep statutory services for vulnerable people, including all statutory children's services up to standard. Councils are highly reluctant to contemplate holding Referendums to obtain approval to raise Council Tax above the permitted thresholds for increase. This reluctance could cause acute hardship for some people in some areas - not all.
Another £55m of savings to be found from Cumbria County Council's budget over the next three years.
Adult services
Library consolidation
Commissioning of services - many Council functions to be done in this way.
Even more cuts to social services budgets
Nothing specific, just the predicted impact of further budget cuts and the implications for Adult Social Care provision, both in terms of likely increase in cost and in the tightening of qualifying criteria for applicants.
Shropshire Fit. But then again this was originally set up to benefit people not to decide which Hospitals are kept open or closed.
Less libraries
There will be changes to many services due to reduced financial resources.
Another £38m to be removed over the next four years! We haven't yet heard what the impact will be.
Likely to be changes to social services, probable cuts to libraries, road maintenance under threat
Transfer services to Council trading company
Library (as above)
Further cuts in bus subsidies
Adult social care services to be reduced
Cannot comment being a local Councillor
Doorstep recycling of plastic and cardboard


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