Councils can improve services by training staff, says APSE

Local authorities could improve their horticultural services by ensuring all staff are qualified to NVQ level 2, or equivalent, and by completing regular public satisfaction questionnaires, the Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) has said.

In December, APSE gave parks, open spaces and horticultural services awards to Halton Borough Council (best performer) and Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (most improved), and commended both for their investment in staff training and use of customer satisfaction data to ascertain what impacts performance levels.

In its assessment of Halton's horticultural service, APSE commended the council for ensuring "all new (and existing) members of staff have to be qualified to NVQ level 2 or equivalent" and for additional training ensuring a "high level of customer care".

Meanwhile, APSE's assessment of Wakefield's service highlighted its in-house delivery of NVQ levels 1 and 2 in horticulture and its active encouragement of staff to participate in the training.

APSE principal adviser Debbie Johns said: "High-performing councils are using cost, productivity, quality and customer satisfaction indicators to learn the reasons behind performance levels.

"They have also reviewed their systems to improve efficiency, invested in staff training and engaged with the public to ensure that standards are maintained."

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