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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 16:40 GMT
Clean-ups 'worse in poorer areas'
Workers were 'overwhelmed' by levels of rubbish in deprived areas
Residents in deprived areas are getting lower standards of street cleaning and refuse collection than people in more affluent places, research suggests.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found it was in spite of poorer neighbourhoods facing more problems such as graffiti, litter and fly-tipping.

The research found that services were better in wealthier areas where people were more likely to complain.

The study, by Glasgow University, surveyed 49 local authorities.

It also included detailed work in four areas.

The study found deprived areas with harder-to-look-after features such as high rise buildings, large open spaces and higher population densities, were especially prone to environmental problems.

Staff 'overwhelmed'

It also found that environmental service staff were overwhelmed by persistently high levels of litter and rubbish in deprived areas, which undermined the quality of their work.

By contrast, in areas with fewer problems, staff were better able to work effectively and knew shoddy work was likely to be reported.

Researchers found that responsible residents in deprived areas, who might previously have wanted to take care of their surroundings, were disheartened when environmental problems went unresolved.

The researchers suggested local authorities should routinely target enhanced services, such as more frequent street cleaning, towards these areas.

They said this could motivate residents and frontline workers and lead to further improvements to reverse the cycle of decline.

Funding such as from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund could help councils address competing demands of poor and affluent neighbourhoods, they said.

'Easier' solution

Annette Hastings, co-author of the report, said people in deprived neighbourhoods faced "a host of complex problems".

"However, the problems of dirty streets can be fixed more easily than other problems," she said.

"All it takes is the recognition by service managers that services need to be designed and deployed to meet the specific needs of deprived neighbourhoods."

She added that the government had a "key role" to play by ensuring the most disadvantaged local authorities had the resources to tackle problem areas without standards in other places being jeopardised.

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