Highland households are highly satisfied with Council services

People in the Highlands find it easy to contact The Highland Council and are highly satisfied with Council Services according to the findings of an independent report.

Members of The Highland Council were presented with the results of the Council’s Annual Performance Survey for 2009 which showed that 93% of respondents found it easy to contact the Council; and 83% of respondents were satisfied with Council services.

Leader of The Highland Council Administration, Councillor Michael Foxley said: “These survey results show the highest levels of satisfaction with Council services recorded since the performance survey started in 2003. I am delighted that public opinion is supportive of the work of The Highland Council and in spite of the difficult budget situation ahead of us I am encouraged by these results which we can build on to deliver future services to the public.

He added: “It proves what we all know that the Highlands is a great place to live. We need to communicate better by improving Ward Forums and considering establishing citizens’ panels.”

The Annual Performance Survey carried out by Sneddon Economics provides information on public opinions and shows changes in public perception over time.  During June and July, 2009 eleven thousand questionnaires were sent to a random sample of households throughout the Highlands and with 1807 returned this provides results which can be generalised to the population as a whole.

The survey asked for opinion on contact with the Council; satisfaction with services; views on community life; and reasons for any dissatisfaction.

The results of the survey showed that high levels of satisfaction continued to be experienced by the public contacting the Council and with services provided.  Seventy one percent of respondents felt that requests were dealt with on the first point of contact and only 7% felt dissatisfied with information provided.

Ninety four percent of respondents regarded their community as a safe place to live in. The top five community safety issues were: speeding cars; dog fouling; vandalism; anti-social behaviour; and rowdy behaviour.

The report showed that satisfaction levels remained high for nearly all types of contact but that there remains room for improvement in the privacy for personal visits and in waiting times for written responses.

Presenting the survey report to Council members, Carron McDiarmid, Head of Policy and Performance said: “On balance the Council is viewed positively in: maintaining good quality local services; being aware of people’s needs; being efficient; environmentally friendly; helpful and friendly; and being a fair employer.

She added: “The Council is viewed negatively in: providing value for money; involving people in how it spends its money; treating residents fairly; telling people what it is doing; and representing people’s views.”

To meet public demand for being more involved in how the Council spends its money, it was agreed that further work would be done to look at setting up citizens’ panels in the Highlands to gauge public mood on a range of issued such as future spending choices.

The report concludes that Highland communities are still regarded as safe and good places to live in with high levels of people feeling connected to their communities and with high levels of volunteering.

29 Oct 2009