West Midlands councils have named improving race relations and cutting child obesity as top priorities – ahead of improving school results and keeping streets clean.
They pledged to cut child poverty, build more homes and reduce congestion.
Councils were asked to choose 35 priorities out of 198 by Hazel Blears, Local Government Secretary, with the promise of extra funding if they did well in the targets chosen.
The five local authorities in Birmingham and the Black Country chose increasing the number of people “who believe people from different backgrounds get on well together in their local areas” as a priority.
Other targets include reducing theft, obesity in children aged 10 or 11 and cutting the number of children in poverty as well as building more homes and reducing average road journey times in morning rush hour.
Options which proved less popular included increasing the number of pupils gaining five or more good GCSEs. Other targets councils could have chosen included cutting truancy, providing better social services for the elderly, ensuring buses ran on time and improving environmental cleanliness, which includes litter, graffiti and fly-posting.
The local targets are agreed with central government after consultation with bodies such as local police, health service and jobcentres.
Across the country as a whole, the priorities for local councils were very different.
The top five priorities for councils nationally were to get more 16 to 18-year-olds into education or training, to reduce the number of teenagers under 18 getting pregnant, to build more homes and to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the gas believed to cause global warming.
Authorities which are successful will receive a share of a £350 million fund, although as this will be shared by 150 authorities over three years it is unlikely to amount to a large windfall for individual authorities.
Ms Blears said setting priorities would make local authorities more accountable, because it would be easier for the public to see whether they had met their targets.
“If knowledge is power, then this is more power to local people. They will be able to see exactly what local government and service providers plan to do in their area, check out how well they are doing, and ask questions if they have not delivered.
“This means less red tape and more freedom for local authorities to deliver what local people want.”
Alongside the new targets, Ms Blears published a Government-commissioned YouGov poll showing 82 per cent considered “creating safer communities” among their top priorities.
Only a quarter said improving young people’s achievement would figure in their top five, although 53 per cent chose getting them to “make a more positive contribution to society”.