Thursday, 7 March 2013

Questions (165)

Nicky McFadden

Question:

165. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the programme for reform of local government will include improving communication directly between citizens and the agencies or Departments delivering the relevant local services; if greater clarity will be provided to citizens in relation to which level or agency of Government is responsible for delivering particular services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12141/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Government’s Action Programme for Effective Local Government outline, inter alia, proposals for the implementation of a range of measures to maximise operational and organisational efficiency and performance in local government and ensure that the best possible standard of service and responsiveness is provided by local authorities to customers, citizens and taxpayers. It also provides that the role of local government will be widened by using its capacity to undertake functions with or on behalf of other sectors and performing a coordination and leadership role locally. Local authorities continue to give priority to maintaining the highest possible standard of customer service in the context of more efficient use of resources, including increased innovation in the delivery of services, for example through area offices and the growing use of online information and service provision and use of social media.

The Action Programme provides that local authority customer charters will be reviewed where they are more than three years old or where significant changes have been made in service provision to ensure continuing improvement in the provision of the optimum level of service to the citizen, and furthermore, in future each City and County Council will ensure that it has a dedicated, suitably trained, Customer Service Officer. This will provide greater clarity to citizens in relation to services provided by local authorities. The Fixtyourstreet.ie website, which assists citizens in reporting problems with street lighting, drainage, graffiti, waste collection and road and path maintenance in their neighbourhoods is now accessible in all local authority areas. As part of the Action Programme, a set of Performance Indicators and Performance Standards against which local authorities can demonstrate their performance will be put in place. Increased emphasis will be placed on identifying customers’ expectations and requirements and their experience of service delivery in their local authority.

To optimise the benefits of Performance Standards and Performance Indicators, local authorities will prepare annual Service Plans and set targets to be achieved in the delivery of services against each of the Performance Standards. The Service Plans, which will cover each service division in each local authority and will set out the decisions taken in relation to the services and levels of standards to which they are expected to be provided, will be adopted by the elected members as a reserved function.