Wealden residents’ satisfaction survey results

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The results of a satisfaction survey carried out with a thousand residents last October have recently been released by Wealden District Council.

Almost three-quarters of respondents said they were either ‘Very satisfied’ or ‘Fairly satisfied’ with how Wealden District Council runs things.

A survey is carried out every two years, to measure residents’ levels of satisfaction with the local area, the Council, and the services it provides. The survey follows the Local Government Association’s methodology, so that a comparison with national data can be made.

The finding show that in all cases were benchmark data exists that satisfaction levels are higher than national averages.

A report was presented to the Council’s Cabinet last week and Portfolio Holder for Community and Public Health Councillor Philip Lunn said the results were “outstanding”:

It is important that we as a Council understand resident satisfaction and this data contributes to how we manage our processes and decision making.

This is the fourth survey to be undertaken since 2014 and in terms of results, Wealden District Council’s satisfaction levels for 2021 are much higher than national levels which is noted as a significant achievement for staff and members alike.

It shows that Wealden is a great place to live, work and play with residents happy with the service the service they receive from our Council.

Cllr Lunn, Portfolio Holder for Community and Public Health

The Council commissioned market research company, Lake Market Research. A random sample of 1,003 residents (aged 18+) were interviewed by telephone between 30th September and 1st November 2021. A sampling approach is used to ensure a broadly representative group of the Wealden population by age, gender, working status and electoral ward are surveyed.

Seven of the questions can be compared with the national benchmarking data collected by the Local Government Association (LGA). An additional nine Wealden specific questions were asked about Council services.

The additional local questions that were redesigned this time around explore social media interaction with the Council, the importance of Council’s activities tackling climate change and attitudes towards the focus of the Council’s pandemics recovery.

Appendix A contains a list of all the questions asked.

Table 1: Summary of results – LGA Benchmarking questions

Value for Money

More than half of residents (53%) agree that Wealden District Council provides value for money. An increase of 4% from the last survey in 2019 and 10% higher than the national figure.

When told that Wealden District Council only keeps about 9% of the Council Tax it collects for its services, respondents were asked the question again – 64% said they ‘Strongly agree’ or ‘Tend to agree’ that that Wealden District Council provides value for money.

Satisfaction with the Local Area

Wealden residents have a high level of satisfaction with the area they live in. 90% are ‘Very satisfied’ or ‘Fairly satisfied’ with their local areas as a place to live – 12% higher than the national figure but down 2% on 2019.

Satisfaction with the Local Council

Almost three quarters (73%) of residents are satisfied with the way the Council runs things – 17% higher than the national average.

Community safety

Perceptions of safety after dark have decreased from the 2019 survey. Just over three quarters (77%) feel safe in their local area after dark, a 5% decrease since 2019. The Wealden figure is 4% higher than the nation figure. Perceptions of safety vary greatly by gender and age with a lower proportion of females, residents aged 65 and over and those living in the South East of the District (Hailsham and surrounding areas) feeling safe in their local area after dark.

Wealden is a very safe place to live. Wealden has the lowest levels of reported crime per 1,000 population of any other community partnership area in Sussex and less than half of the overall level of recorded crime for England & Wales.

Table 2: Summary of results – Locally specific questions

Satisfaction with Council services

Satisfaction with refuse and recycling services is 90% (up from 75% in 2019), free car parks 85%, Council owned leisure centres 84% and the collection of Council Tax 80%.

The large increase in the refuse and recycling, coincides with the introduction of Biffa as the waste contractor which reflects the good job it does.

Satisfaction is lowest for Planning and Building Control (41%). It should be noted that respondents are given the opportunity to state that they ‘had not used/experienced’ a particular service and that these responses are treated as invalid and excluded from the results. Wealden District Council will look to amend the question in future surveys to obtain further detail and better understand residents’ experiences with the service.

Climate change

Finally, in respect of climate change, 89% of residents believe it is important for the Council to undertake activities to tackle climate change – with only 7% believing it is not important (either not very or not at all). A higher proportion of female residents believe it is very important (65%) compared to male residents (50%).

Last time the survey was conducted in 2019, the findings were published showing a breakdown ie what proportion of respondents said they were ‘Very satisfied’ / ‘Fairly satisfied’ or ‘Strongly agree’ / ‘Tend to agree’.

Click for a report to Cabinet about the Wealden Residents Satisfaction Survey 2021.

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