You are on page 1of 13

Local policy versus quality of life in the suburban area of the Tri-City Agglomeration1

Grzegorz Masik, MSc The Faculty of Economic Geography, Gdańsk University

The essence and the scope of the notion of local policy

Local policy is an activity of local authorities in the social, economic and cultural fields. Referring to local policy in Poland, as conducted by district Local government or Commune Local government, (second and third level of local governing bodies) is taken into consideration; however this research has been limited only to the lowest level authorised to constitute law – the level of the commune. It can be stated that local authorities act in a political environment, because they have to make decisions and choices in conditions in which there exist many, very often divergent, businesses of participants in social and economic processes (J. Kot, 2003). The essence of local policy itself consists of defining the methods, standards and the scope for carrying out public tasks. It also consists of making the appropriate investment of financial funds that constitute communal ownership.

The policy of local authorities is aimed at local development. It is possible to specify the aims of local development in the case of a specified territory (e.g. of a commune). T. Markowski (1999) considers the possibilities of goal formulation from the point of view of the following three areas: - general social values resulting from accepted systems of ideas and the hierarchy of values in a given society; - external conditioning resulting from the subordination of the aims of the development of the local systems to the superior aims; - problems of local communities, mainly in the area of living conditions and needs in the scope of the development and operation of economic entities.


The name used interchangeably instead the Agglomeration of Gdansk (Tri-City means Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot)


health protection. Pursuant to the Act. in particular. the protection of nature and the environment and water economy. public squares.g. communal land. recreation sites and sports facilities. The tasks also include matters. are ensuring local public transport. the preservation of historic buildings and monuments. its own tasks. streets. preparation of a local spatial management plan. maintenance of cleanliness and order and of communal waste dumps is among the responsibilities of the commune. social welfare). Local government possesses greater possibilities for decision-making as far as the distribution of financial funds is concerned (e. also belong to the tasks of Local government. physical education and tourism. sewage system. traffic management and any matters related to water supply. promotion of the commune. In addition. 16 item 95) in Art. among others. education. and. safety. which determine the competences of local authorities in detail. Among the competences of Local governments. The effect of the activities of a Local government on the particular areas of life of the inhabitants differs 2 . 6. local roads. As mentioned above. The Act on Commune Local Government (OJL dated 8th March 1990. related to communal roads. the development of water supply and sewage system infrastructure. including libraries and other cultural institutions.In this research. At this point. specifically. space development) and in others it mainly transfers financial funds from the state budget to the expressly defined target designated in separate acts (e. the commune deals with pro-family policy. The support and the dissemination of the idea of Local government. the last of the aforementioned points of view has been taken into consideration. the subjective assessment of selected aspects of public space. In addition. No. the research focuses on the perception analysis of living conditions of people. The scope of activities of Commune Local government in Poland is regulated by law. Appropriately conducted local policy should improve the quality of life of the inhabitants. real estate economy. public order.g. communal housing and public education. the Commune Local government performs a large number of tasks. The category of matters the commune deals with also includes issues related to markets and market-halls. gas and the heating infrastructure. collaboration with non-governmental organisations and co-operation with local and regional societies from other countries. comprise matters relating to spatial order. it should be mentioned that in some areas. fire and flood protection and the maintenance of communal public utility sites. i.e. item 1 defines the scope of activities and the tasks of a commune. Particular tasks are performed by the Commune Local government in accordance with a large number of acts. medical care and protection of the law. Further matters in the scope of the activities of communes comprise issues related to culture. including the assertion of social welfare. social welfare.

. degree of independence and attitude towards significant characteristics of the surrounding environment. it is a broad concept. technical and spatial factors. A. expectations. Hence in this research. in research on the quality of life the factors of the economic. social relations. the Commune Local government may undertake its own initiatives and in such a manner support the obligatory tasks implemented by the state. Weight is given to the research on the quality of life by the fact of the acceptance of the “Agenda Habitat” at the UN Conference on Human Settlements “HABITAT II” convened in Istanbul in 1996. directly depend on the financial possibilities.”. and even of the managerial area (related to the participation of the inhabitants in public life). in some cases the effect of the Local government is very limited. Markowski 1999. where the financial funds. which are referred to by I. will be invested. It states. According to WHO. The inhabitants’ assessment of particular areas of life presented below result from the tasks imposed on the Commune Local government by the legislator. in connection with their own goals. Nevertheless. if such possibilities exist. standards and fears”. which can be freely managed by the Local government.. which are limited. This issue requires separate analysis. The quality of life Definitions of the quality of life have been given by numerous authors (among others. e. However. the quality of life should be viewed as “a manner of perception by individuals of their position in life in the context of culture and the system of values in which they exist. H. T. it depends on the local authorities. 3 . besides environmental (ecological). However. Dziurowicz-Kozłowska 2002). therefore it emphasises its subjective dimension. in particular. Zborowski 2005). his mental condition.apart from the economic. were not analysed in detail.g. which contribute to the quality of space or life conditions. One of the comprehensive definitions has been given by the World Health Organisation Quality of Life (following A. that “the quality of life of all people depends on . Massam 2002. J. B. Sagan (2004). The definition also refers to the quality of life as “a manner of perception by individuals. it should be remembered that. Therefore. to the extent Local government may decide on them.. which is comprehensively influenced by the physical health of an individual. which regulate the scope of the possibility of activities in detail. the opinions of inhabitants on the particular areas of the activities of Local government that have been taken into consideration. The number and the nature of these initiatives. sanitary and educational area are accented. Karwowski 2003a and 2003b.and depends on separate acts. though.

Apart from the objective indices the subjective perception of the quality of life has been the subject of research (R. which includes the personal traits of individuals related to the research on the level of fulfilment of biological and social needs (objective features) and to satisfaction and well-being (subjective traits). It is assumed that the quality of life in a narrower approach means the subjective assessment of the standard of living.. was used for the purposes of comparison between states in the United States of America and between the areas among metropolises and individuals inside the towns. education. have a crucial effect on the quality of life in a residential settlement”. the density of population and buildings. services and public utility sites.M.. it is interpreted as all of the living conditions assessed by objective and subjective categories.J. 2001.spatial conditions and characteristics of villages and towns. wealth and employment.the spatial form of the environment created by a human being exerts a strong influence on people’s mood and behaviour and thereby on their health” (following Pluta K. social welfare and 4 . 93). road infrastructure. Hence. J. transportation and easy access to basic goods.. . Zborowski 2004): . social order. In addition. S. are given in the literature (R. Rogerson 1999 following A. taking objective features into consideration (so-called city ratings). physical and mental health. The subjective dimension of the quality of life is based on questionnaire surveys. Two types of research approach. Rogerson and others.the characteristics of various dimensions of the natural and social environment. Whereas. Social well-being based. recreation infrastructure. the manner of utilisation of land. Knox. the level of healthcare. costs of home maintenance. “. life environment including living conditions. in that case. The spatial layout and aesthetics of towns. 2000). which increases the cost of such research. in a broader approach. p.the analysis mainly based on questionnaire surveys. environmental and cultural factors . in this study the focus is on the assessments of the inhabitants in the villages located in suburban areas of the following issues: public transport. therefore their spatial range is restricted and consequently it becomes more difficult to make comparisons between larger areas (P. D. Pinch. in a broad sense. In the first of the aforementioned approaches the following issues are taken into account: the state of the natural environment. Smith (1973) distinguishes seven groups of indices representing different issues influencing social well-being. environmental cleanliness and other aspects affecting the quality of life. 1989). The quality of life is also called social well-being. recreation and leisure on objective indices. which are: income.

following A. Asking detailed questions to the inhabitants about their satisfaction regarding particular areas of life. among others. In such a manner. however. The wide discretion in selecting indicators describing the standard of living makes it difficult to create a coherent system. in the subjective dimension. because weights. strictly) should belong to particular individuals. The research on the fulfilment of human needs refers to the analysis of the objective dimension of the standard of living. which appeared to be insufficient for the assessment of the standard and conditions of life.crime. The analyses based on the research on the quality of life related to the subjective well-being of individuals derive from medicine. psychology and sociology. in the field of geography has been a reaction to the absolute approach to economic indices. which would reflect essential issues of the standard of living. The so-called city ratings in this research are used for comparisons of the quality of life between towns. because the evaluation of those categories (the quality of life. may lead to completely different conclusions. because it also results from social and cultural values of the examined population. The research on satisfaction or well-being can exclusively be based on questionnaire surveys. Hence the development of questionnaire surveys enabling the actual examination of life satisfaction. to separate precisely. the influence of each of the levels of the policy on the quality of life. in particular in the United States of America. The results of the research presented below are based on the hypothesis that states that local policy affects the subjectively perceived quality of life. there are also those areas of life taken into consideration. There is no way. less wealthy or living in worse conditions. It should be emphasised that the objective indices cannot fully describe well-being (the quality of life). or which are influenced by the Commune Local government pursuant to the provisions of relevant acts. The conducted research assumes that Local government influences the quality of life through Local governmental expenses aimed at the particular targets servicing the local society. Zborowski 2004). and is based on the so-called Genevan method (J. domestic and international policy do so. if the latter experiences stronger life satisfaction despite being. which are not captured by any statistical data. It can also be added that not only local policy. selected subjectively. which are financed by the Commune Local government. but also regional. In the subjective assessment of the quality of life. Drewnowski 1974 following A. The development of those research projects. a thesis can be stated that Local government exerts an 5 . the quality of life of a resident of the United States does not have to be higher than the subjective assessment of the quality of life (life satisfaction) of a resident of India. for example. as well as in Europe (Urban Audit research initiated by the European Commission. Weighting of the indicators is also a problem in this kind of research. Zborowski 2004).

i. Both editions were compared and areas where the most significant changes in the settlement network occurred were specified.influence on the satisfaction (well-being) of the inhabitants. Pruszcz Gdański and rural and municipal commune of ukowo 6 . Questions were also asked about. the possibilities for recreation. Kosakowo. questions were asked about satisfaction with different aspects of public transport (the frequency of bus services. development of the network of public transport and others) or different aspects of road infrastructure. Kolbudy. The questionnaire survey was carried out in October and November 2006 in 45 villages in 7 communes2 of the suburban areas of the Tri-City Agglomeration. i. whose topicality was defined at end of the 1970’s and the beginning of the 1980’s. for example. This study only presents the conclusions from the conducted research and it does not contain any detailed results of the research. Their selection was carried out with the assistance of topographical maps scale 1: 10 000 issued by GUGiK at the beginning of the current decade and maps scale 1: 25 000. 2 rural communes of: Luzino. those persons were able to compare their current place of residence with the previous one. which constitute the tasks of the Commune Local government. sampling error amounting to 4 %. The following assumptions were made: representativeness of the sample at the level of 95 %. Szemud. The author was interested in the opinions expressed by inhabitants that settled in the suburban areas after 1989. The method used for the purposes of the research was the random-route method with the use of simple random sampling. Wejherowo.e. The inhabitants had a chance to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction on selected issues of activities of Local government. housing economy (including difficulties related to the lack of water supply and sewage systems). Research methodology This research is based on the results of the questionnaire surveys conducted in the area of suburbanisation of the Tri-City agglomeration. the cleanliness of the buses. the quality of educational services in communes. the cultural offer in the communes and others. The selection of the villages results from visible morphological changes which occurred after 1989. In the survey.e. the cleanliness of the environment. on their subjectively perceived quality of life. those activities. which allowed for the acquisition of reliable responses. The research was conducted on 793 persons.

with the frequency of bus services). The least positive opinions were expressed on the possibility of use of the recreation and sports infrastructure. The results of the research presented here show that new inhabitants of the suburban area must take into account a weakly developed road infrastructure. 1. provision of water supply and sewage system infrastructure etc. Satisfaction of the inhabitants of the suburban area (only positive opinions) with selected aspects of public space. the quality of the environment and nature the quality of the built-up area. approximately 70% of the inhabitants admitted that they are satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of environment and nature. inhabitants of new 7 . Also a substantial number of the respondents were satisfied with the urbanised area (including the density of buildings. Only 14% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. a small number of bus connections and insufficient cultural offer for the demanding. Decidedly fewer people were satisfied with public transport (in particular. aesthetics. On a five-degree scale of satisfaction. Slightly fewer people expressed their satisfaction with the educational services offered to their children in primary school and in junior high school (comp.Inhabitant’s satisfaction with policies versus Local government expenses As has been mentioned. including w ater supply and sew age system infrastructure educational services public transport cultural offer road infrastructure recreation and sport infrastructure % 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Fig. the inhabitants of the suburban areas were asked questions about their satisfaction with many aspects influencing the quality of life. and 16% admitted that they had no opinion on that subject. An equally small number of positive assessments were expressed on the quality of the road infrastructure. as a rule with a high level of education. 1). and only a little more positive were the opinions on the cultural offer provided by the Local government. including the number of hardened roads.). fig.

carry out many tasks described in the acts. 2.8 PLN 8 . The Commune Local governments in Poland. Some of the tasks are defined in detail by the acts (e. This policy was characterised on the basis of expenditure for particular goals3. It can be seen that the highest expenditure incurred by the communes was on education in primary schools and junior high schools. Educational expenditures in seven communes in the area of suburbanisation of the agglomeration of Gdansk. educational expenditure). etc. water supply. 2). but the financial funds were in most cases directly transferred from the state’s budget in the framework of a so-called educational subsidy. The recreation infrastructure is also insufficient (no parks. playgrounds. The expenditure was structured in such a way that it became the most comparable to the categories in which the inhabitants expressed their opinions on selected aspects of the quality of public space. Some of the opinions on satisfaction with some aspects of the public space presented above have been compared with the policy of Local governments at the level of the commune. and the investments in new premises decreased4 slightly (fig. cycle paths. culture and recreation). which in turn affects the quality of life. as has been mentioned above. planning. while others are not subject to any strict limitations (expenditure on roads. This problem is common to many agglomerations in Poland and is characteristic of the initial phase of the development of metropolitan areas.).suburban residential settlements.g. 3 4 on the basis of the budget execution for the period 2002-2005 at an exchange rate of 1 Euro = 3. That expenditure in the years 2002-2005 fluctuated slightly in seven of the communes under examination. sewage system. euro / person 250 200 150 100 50 0 2002 2003 2004 2005 year total e xpenditures investment expenditures Fig.

g. 1). in general. Apart from the aspects related to the protection of the environment. investments were mainly in new buildings of junior high schools. etc.). local authorities are also responsible for lighting in a commune (not included on fig. it has been noticed that the inhabitants perceive and negatively assess the spatial chaos in the villages in the suburban area that are undergoing rapid urbanising changes.water suplay and sewage system investment expenditures . 3). several percent of their area is covered by a plan. to a lesser degree. for which the expenditure has been regularly increasing. It mainly relates to the land for widened roads. fig. Expenditure on technical infrastructure in seven communes in the suburban area. 3. parks. which is not only the responsibility of the Local government. the quality of 9 . rain sewage system.In recent years. playgrounds. Much lower expenditure related to such Local governmental tasks as the protection of the environment (the Commune Local government mainly takes care of communal waste collection. to the land for other public projects (e.local roads investment expenditures .local roads year Fig. whereas in the communes under examination.water suplay and sewage system total expenditures . It is worth pointing out that the funds spent on routine road repairs and investments in new local roads have increased in recent years (fig. euro / person 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 2002 2003 2004 2005 total expenditures . The increase in the amount of land purchased by the Local governments may be regarded as a positive development. expenditure on planning work (including the preparation of local spatial management plans) has been decreasing. 3). and cleaning services) (fig. Although. as a rule. The expenditure on water supply and sewage system infrastructure was smaller and the amount of the investments fluctuated (fig. and to a lesser degree in primary schools and kindergartens. 4). 4). In the course of the questionnaire surveys. Unfortunately. which meets the expectations of society (comp.

mostly related to the quality of the cultural offer. 5). The financial funds for the purposes of recreation seem to be small in comparison to the social expectations (comp. These fluctuations are the result of the construction of a show and sports hall. The respondents argued that the offer is mainly oriented toward children and young people. very often degraded places of residence). however. therefore it fails to meet the respondents’ expectations. 1). planning works and land purchases. will be able to offer entertainment of a high standard. however. has increased in recent years (fig 5). deprived of substantial financial funds. 4. in the nearest future it cannot be expected that small rural communes. the inhabitants. so they feel forced to travel to large cities such as Gdansk. Sopot or Gdynia. 10 . The expenditure of the Commune Local government on the protection of the environment. euro / person 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 2002 2003 2004 2005 year the cleanliness and environmental protection public work planning land purchase Fig. fig. The expenditure on physical education. The opinions of the inhabitants. perceive some of the public space as improperly managed. which significantly increased the expenditure per inhabitant (fig. recreation and sport slightly increased and fell again. in line with expectations.the built-up area is positively assessed (in comparison to the previous. The expenditure of Commune Local governments on culture.

5. Conclusions The excerpt from the wider research presented above permits the conclusion that expenditure on the road infrastructure is increasing rapidly. which is in accordance with the social expectations of the inhabitants of the area under examination. that a condition of growing importance. The aforementioned analysis is limited exclusively to the assessment of the policy of the Local government at the level of the commune. in the period of increased in flow of people to the suburban areas in Poland.e. and recreation and sport infrastructure. which increases the satisfaction of the inhabitants with their place of residence. Due to the selection of a group of people. 11 . as an example. for the purposes of the research. It can be stated. Those inhabitants settled in the suburban area after 1989. is proximity to a high school that is known for its high standard of teaching. The expenditure on waste collection and separation has also been increasing. The expenditure of the Commune Local government on culture. affected most negatively the subjectively perceived quality of life of the inhabitants in the suburban area of the Tri-cities agglomeration. the responses acquired can be considered relatively reliable. who are able to make comparison between their current place of residence and their previous one (most often in towns).euro / person 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 2002 2003 culture year 2004 2005 recreation and sport Fig. The expenditure on the sewage system infrastructure fluctuated. The cultural offer and the recreation infrastructure have been perceived negatively. and this partially resulted from the obligations of Poland towards the European Union in consideration of the protection of the environment. for which the Commune Local government is responsible. A suitable high school is thereby one of the most important factors affecting further possibilities of education. The latter areas of the activities. i.

Zarządzanie rozwojem miast. On Measuring and Planning the Quality of Life. Therefore. The analysis has been restricted to only those aspects for which the Commune Local governments are responsible. US. (red. Regionalne zró nicowanie jakości ycia [Regional differentiation of the quality of life]. DZIUROWICZ-KOZŁOWSKA A.g. Rola kompozycji urbanistycznej w kształtowaniu przestrzeni publicznych współczesnych miast [The role of the urban composure in the shaping of public space in 12 . 2003b. [in:] Progress in Planning. 1974. Łódź. Warszawa. (red. KARWOWSKI J. Warszawa. Hague-Paris. 2001. Zarządzanie rozwojem gmina a praktyka planowania strategicznego. US. Wokół pojęcia jakości ycia [Around the definition of the quality of life] [in:] Psychologia jakości ycia [Psychology of the quality of life]. it does however. PLUTA K. Although the quality of life analysed in such a manner does not fully reflect all of its aspects.. PINCZ S.. there are many aspects of the quality of life.. 1. KOT J. Jakość ycia w regionie [The quality of life in a region]. KARWOWSKI J.The financial funds from the state’s budget are transferred to high schools from a different type of Local government (i. MASSAM B.e. Bibliography DREWNOWSKI J.. PWN. no. Szczecin. and therefore indirectly co-responsible for its quality. 2. which has yet not been studied here. which have intentionally been omitted in this study (e.. which usually constitutes a problem in this type of research. Szczecin. Quality of life: public planning and private living. 2000. Urban social geography. [The management of the development of towns. Canada. An introduction.. v. The concept of the examination of the quality of life in the context of local policy facilitates the selection of appropriate indices and the reduction of their number. Mouton. Prentice Hall. allow for the identification of the entities responsible for the improvement of the living conditions. KNOX P.H.).). 2002. 2003. Toronto. SWPS Academica. 1999. 2002.] UŁ. [The management of the development. no. a commune versus the practice of strategic planning. 2003a... Harlow. District government). MARKOWSKI T. 58.]. crime).

OJL dated 8 March 1990.). Wybrane aspekty badań poziomu i jakości ycia w du ym mieście [Selected aspects of research on the quality of life and standard of living in a large city] [in:] I. 2005. Coombes M. J. (maszynopis ekspertyzy wykonanej dla Biura Rozwoju Gdańska). Kraków. M. G. Kolbudy. Łódź. PAN. ROGERSON R. Zró nicowanie warunków ycia ludności w mieście [Diversity of living conditions in the city]. Rozwój regionalny i przestrzeń publiczna. Ranking czynników ekonomicznych i nieekonomicznych wpływających na ocenę jakości ycia w mieście. Morris A. ZBOROWSKI A. S.. Statements from budget execution of the following rural communes: Kosakowo.. Szemud. 16 item 95. A geography of social well-being in the United States.[Ranking of the economic and non-economic factors affecting the assessment of the quality of life in a city. (typescript of the expertise carried out for the Gdansk Development Office)] SMITH D. Markowski (ed. Act on Commune Local government. Indicators of quality of life: some methodological issues [in:] Environment and Planning A 21. [Regional development and public space.. z. 2004.... pp. Warszawa. 13 . UŁ.. SAGAN I.[The transformation of the social and spatial structure of the municipal region during the period of socialism and political transformation (Krakow as an example) IGiGP UJ. M. Findlay A. Luzino .. 1973. 194. McGraw-Hill. no. Pruszcz Gdański and the municipally-rural community of ukowo from the period 2002-2005. 2004. Przemiany struktury społeczno-przestrzennej regionu miejskiego w okresie realnego socjalizmu i transformacji ustrojowej (na przykładzie Krakowa).Wejherowo. XVII Konwersatorium wiedzy o mieście [XVII Conversatorium of Knowledge about the City]. ZBOROWSKI A.modern cities][in:] T.. Ja d ewska. New York. 19-31.] Biuletyn KPZK. 1989.