Satisfaction at five-year high but trams take toll

THE number of people who are satisfied with the management of their neighbourhood has reached a five-year high, new figures have revealed.

Nearly three quarters of Edinburgh residents said their local area was well run, with the highest level on record – 53 per cent – saying they were “very satisfied”.

However, fewer than half of those questioned said they were happy with city management overall, with the handling of the tram project the most common complaint.

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Poor use of public funds, general mismanagement, high council tax and issues with the quality of pavements and roads were among the complaints reported as part of this year’s Edinburgh People’s Survey.

Satisfaction levels have varied between 35 per cent and 57 per cent over the past five years, with 46 per cent satisfied with performance in 2011.

The survey, which involved face-to-face interviews with 5000 city dwellers towards the end of last year and cost around £50,000, is one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

Residents were less satisfied with the way the city council has dealt with community safety than in recent years.

Satisfaction with the way vandalism and graffiti is handled fell from 83 per cent in 2009 to 71 per cent in 2011, while the figures for tackling antisocial behaviour fell from 75 per cent to 67 per cent.

Despite the drops the figures are an improvement overall on the last five years. Council leader Jenny Dawe said: “I’m very pleased to see that satisfaction with how we are providing vital services is increasing overall.

“This is thanks to the efforts made by the whole council to keep the city clean, green and safe, as well as the investment we have made in facilities and support for children and vulnerable people.

“We know that the tram project has an impact on how people feel about the council but I’m confident that the recent progress made will show itself in future surveys.”

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“We also responded to public feedback in our recent budget by investing in their priorities. However, we will continue to work hard, especially on how we communicate with our customers.”

Overall, those living in nine out of the city’s 12 neighbourhood partnership areas were happier with the way they were run.

Council chiefs said they are keen to improve communication with city residents. Exit polls of customers who had just received a service from the council were high, at around 96 per cent.

Alastair Maclean, director of corporate governance, said: “Our neighbourhood management appears to be working well. However, we do need to communicate more effectively at a corporate level and continue to follow through on the priorities identified.”