Blackburn tops list for positive links

Voluntary organisations in Stoke-on-Trent and Barnsley are less impressed with their local public bodies, survey finds

Charities that want a fruitful relationship with the public sector should consider moving to Blackburn or Bracknell - and avoid Barnsley and Stoke.

A survey of 104,000 English third sector organisations, carried out by the Office of the Third Sector, asked not-for-profit groups to rate the influence of public bodies in helping them achieve success.

Twenty-seven per cent of the 118 third sector respondents in Blackburn said statutory bodies had a 'positive' or 'very positive' influence. Only 10 per cent said they had a 'negative' or 'very negative' influence.

In Barnsley and Stoke, however, only 13 per cent replied 'positive' or 'very positive', and 26 per cent said 'negative' or 'very negative'.

The findings, which were published last week, will help set a baseline for further research into whether local authorities are achieving the new National Indicator 7, which requires them to create "an environment for a thriving third sector".

A Barnsley Council spokesman said it was considering ways in which it could improve perceptions of the council. "Our intelligence suggests relationships with the third sector are very strong," he said.

Naomi Douglas, marketing and communications officer at Voluntary Action Barnsley, said it had questioned the validity of the survey with the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber. "Some groups have responded negatively solely on the basis that funding is no longer available," she said.

Martin Gilman, chief executive of Bracknell Forest Voluntary Action, said strong personal relationships had contributed to the high marks for local public bodies.

Nationally, only 16.2 per cent of third sector organisations rated their statutory bodies positively. In all cases, the most common response was 'neither positive nor negative'.


From top dogs ...
1, Blackburn with Darwen, Lancashire
2. Bracknell, Berkshire
=3. St Helens, Lancashire
=3. Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire

... to bottom feeders
=146. Thurrock, Essex
=146. Walsall, West Midlands
=148. Barnsley, Yorkshire
=148. Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

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