Grotspotting is an important part of a typical councillor's workload. The "broken windows" theory is well known and shows the importance of getting graffiti cleaned off quickly before a district is dragged down. As well as spotting grot ourselves we rely on other residents to tell us about it. The residents hope that as councillors we have the status to ensure such problems are dealt with.
Another approach I have noticed is the website fixmystreet.com. Anyone can email in a report and it is forwarded on the relevant Council. This system relies on transparency as a spur to action. The unresolved complaints from each Council are there are all to see – along with praise for the success stories where the matter has been sorted out.
It may not be as comprehensive a guide to a Council's performance as resident satisfaction surveys or Audit Commission inspections. Yet I suspect we will be seeing more pressure coming from initiatives like this in the future. Of course the public sector by its nature will be bureaucratic and inefficient but this sort of accountability helps.