Nearly eight out of ten Tower Hamlets residents (78 per cent) continue to agree that people from different backgrounds get on well together, are positive about most local services, and 69 per cent say that the council is doing a good job.
These are some of the findings in the latest independent residents’ survey, which helps to give the council a detailed picture of how local people feel about council services and the wider issues that affect them and their communities.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “The annual residents’ survey provides an important independent snapshot of the issues that matter most to our residents and the wider community. Our diversity is our greatest asset and it’s encouraging once again to see a clear majority of people from all backgrounds get on well with their neighbours.
“Continued austerity and reduced resources has seen our government funding cut by £148m since 2010, which is a 64 per cent reduction in real terms. Despite these huge challenges we have invested in the areas residents have told us are a priority, tackling crime, delivering much needed affordable homes and making our borough cleaner and greener.”
Using ‘benchmarking’ (how local residents’ opinions of the council compare with other councils across the country), Tower Hamlets residents are generally more satisfied in a number of areas. These include trust in the council (69 per cent compared to 60 per cent), being kept informed (72 per cent compared with 59 per cent) and 61 per cent of residents say that the council listens to their concerns, compared with the 58 per cent national average.
The top issues people say they are most concerned about include crime and anti-social behaviour (48 per cent), a lack of affordable housing (29 per cent), closely followed by litter and dirty streets (28 per cent). These top three concerns have been repeated in recent years, and are also areas in which the council has been investing resources and adopting new policies.
The high profile focus on violent crime has lifted this issue as a growing concern for residents across London and the county as a whole. To address the London-wide issue of cuts in police numbers, the council has invested its own funds to recruit 38 additional police officers. Through the success of Operation Continuum, which works with the police to target serious drug dealing and organised crime in the borough, 396 people have been arrested, over 170 properties raided and more than £560,000 has been seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
A new community safety e-newsletter is being launched to keep residents updated on the work of our Tower Hamlets Enforcement Officers (THEOs), the latest on Operation Continuum and efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour. There will also be news on CCTV enforcement, our No Place for Hate champions project and how to get involved in neighbourhood walkabouts.
Once again this year, Tower Hamlets is one of the areas in the country contributing towards the highest numbers of new housing. However, with an expensive inner London location, one of the fastest growing populations in the UK and 20,000 on the housing waiting list, pressure for affordable housing remains high.
The council has committed to an ambitious plan to deliver 2,000 new council homes. These will be genuinely affordable and let to Tower Hamlets residents on the housing register including an increased supply of larger family size homes.
Long-standing concerns from residents about street cleaning and waste collection have led to the council taking the decision to bring these key frontline services back in house from 2020. This will help to address current concerns but also ensure that the service is well placed to deal with the expected extra 30,000 households by 2028.
In addition to more than 1,000 new litter bins across the borough, the council is rolling out ‘smart bins’ that compact waste and send out alerts when they’re full. Following feedback, 17 large ‘belly bins’ have been placed at locations including Whitechapel Market and Shadwell station that have greater than average footfalls.
Despite the major funding cuts the council has faced, it remains one of the few councils that still provide a free bulky waste collection. This reduces the cost of having to deal with fly-tipping and keeps the borough looking cleaner for its residents. Residents can now request bulky waste collections on the council website as part the council’s save time go online initiative.
The borough’s award winning parks and open spaces continue to be much loved by residents with 70 per cent of users rating them between excellent, very good or good. 74 per cent of parents rate local primary education as excellent, very good or good, with 65 per cent giving one of the same ratings for secondary schools.
The full annual residents’ survey results are available here: www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/residentssurvey
Posted on Tuesday 3rd September 2019