If someone asked you to define in layman’s terms the words “Air Quality” what comes to mind?

Conceptually one may think about terms such as “clear”, “clean”, “pure” or ‘fresh”. These are descriptive terms and the bottom line is that the quality of air can only be understood if related to some form of objective measurement.

The same applies to other basic commodities such as Water or Food and the concept of evaluating quality by some form of objective measurement can extend into measuring the quality of everyday items such as electrical goods, cars, banks, air travel, public services, and businesses.

Different sectors have different ways of assessing and managing quality from highly detailed quality management systems employed in the aircraft, engineering, manufacturing and food sector down to the less rigorous self certification systems which constitute “best practice” where the effects of a failure in quality might be a little less dramatic.

Organisations in most sectors are generally keen to invest in some form of quality management system and can see the benefit it delivers to the organisation as a way of:

  • establishing a baseline for how the organisation is performing
  • identifying weaknesses in their processes and procedures
  • improving the quality of the product or service being delivered
  • maintaining high standardsgaining an accreditation within their sector
  • improving their reputation
  • promoting themselves to existing and potential new customers

So how can this relate to Parish Councils?

Well it’s about setting standards, about understanding what’s required to meet and respond to the needs of your community.

It’s about demonstrating a level of competence that’s recognised by your residents, your partners and most importantly yourself.

It’s about knowing what the benchmark is and showing your council has the mindset, integrity and commitment to surpass it to do the best for your community.

There are lots of myths about being a “quality council” but at the simplest level it’s all about you and your council does your town or parish council...

  • Earn the respect of it's community
  • Lead your community
  • Really represent your community
  • Contribute to making your community a safe and welcoming place to live
  • Consult with and listening to you and the electorate
  • Respond to the concerns of residentsWork in partnership with community and other local groups
  • Identify and work to resolve problems and gaps in service to your community
  • Develop, support and train council staff as a good employer
  • Develop councillor skills and those of your council as a team

Delivering a quality agenda is about being able to demonstrate your worth to those around you, it’s about being better and being seen to be better not just average.

If the parish sector is to have a credible quality system it needs to address the fundamental issues. Quality is not a tick in the box exercise it can only be assessed by the users of the service irrespective of size.

Any quality system that is not independent, verifiable and does not allow the bar to be raised lacks substance, credibility and value.