DCC satisfaction rate rises

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Dunedin's city leaders say a residents' opinion survey showing a 15-year high in satisfaction with the Dunedin City Council continues an improving trend.

The level of satisfaction with the council in the 2017 survey rose six points on last year, reaching 58%.

Mayor Dave Cull described that as "very encouraging''.

"It's not just because of a blip.

"What I think is encouraging is it's showing a long-term trend.

"When I came in as mayor [in 2010] I think the satisfaction rate was 26%.

"It's 58% now.''

The council has commissioned an annual opinion survey since 1994 to canvass the views of residents on their local government, and the services and facilities it provides the community.

This year more than half the 1231 respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied the council delivered overall value for money, with the figure up four points at 51%.

Satisfaction with the council's support for economic development in the city also rose six points on last year to 50%.

There was a strong surge in the number who perceived Dunedin as a safe city, up 12 points at 73%, and the number of residents who thought Dunedin was a sustainable city, up five points at 57%.

Key Research senior research consultant David Mustard said the survey was done using a random selection from the electoral roll.

Of the 4800 people asked during the year, 1231 responded.

It was different from past surveys, which were produced annually. The latest was done continuously throughout the year.

That was a better approach, as seasonality and good or bad events - a flood for instance - were less likely to skew results.

The report said residents thought highly of public facilities, parks, reserves and outdoor spaces.

However, while the majority of residents had visited at least one of those during the year, there had been a significant decline in the use of sports fields.

Numbers satisfied with playing fields were down four points at 75%.

Almost 40% of respondents had an interaction with the council in the previous three months and "mostly evaluate the service very well''.

There were "opportunities'' for the council to ensure staff followed through on interactions, and if residents weren't able to achieve the outcome they sought, to ensure the reasons were understood.

Improvements that would be most valued by residents related to communications, and particularly the council's website.

The report said while Dunedin remained strongly associated with its architectural heritage, it was increasingly recognised for being a creative, safe and sustainable city.

Mr Cull said the survey reflected a growing sense of confidence in the direction the city was headed.

He said it showed staff were getting delivery of services right, and people were noticing.

There was also a growing awareness of what the council provided.

There were still some areas to work on, but that was the beauty of having the survey.

Chief executive Sue Bidrose said she was not surprised people were more satisfied with the council's efforts in terms of value for money.

Dunedin's rating was among the lowest in the country, but the city provided a full range of services.

Dr Bidrose said she had a "really dedicated group of staff who work their backsides off'' in what had been constrained financial circumstances over the past five years, as spending had been tightened.

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