Tue, Jan 24, 2023 9:27 AM

Marlburians less satisfied with their council but they are not alone


Maia Hart

Satisfaction in Marlborough’s council has decreased 6% in the last year, but wider societal issues such as Covid-19 and inflationary pressure may be partly to blame, survey results suggest.

Meanwhile, it came as no surprise to councillors when they were told improving the state of Marlborough’s roads would help to bring those satisfaction levels up.

Strategy Insight Leverage (SIL) research managing director Dr Virgil Troy presented the 2021-22 Resident Survey to councillors at the Economic, Finance & Community Committee.

Troy said given it had been a challenging year nationally and regionally, the council had fared “reasonably well” in the eyes of residents compared to the previous year.

“That's across most council services, with very high positivity around some key facilities as well, while continuing to match and even outperform national benchmarks,” Troy said.

Councillors quietly laughed when they were told improving the state of Marlborough’s roads could help increase satisfaction levels. Photo: Supplied/STUFF.

Three quarters of council services achieved a satisfaction score of 60% or more, with 12 services achieving 80% satisfaction or higher. The best performing services included public sports grounds (88%), libraries (87%), parks and reserves (88%), sewerage (88%) and swimming pools (87%).

“Where you have a service rated slightly higher, for example your community facilities, drinking water, animal control, flood protection, that's actually pushing the ratings up,” he said.

But some services, including roads (44%), housing for seniors (47%) and resource consent management (49%) pulled that overall satisfaction down.

“So if you're looking at the best bang for buck, what you can work on, [I] definitely would concentrate on roads. Because that's something that has occurred as significant for the last five years,” Troy said.

This comment was met by a murmur of laughs from councillors during the meeting.

Troy said while it might look like the general trend was showing a decline in overall satisfaction, there could be some lingering affects of Covid-19 and inflationary pressure contributing to that. The council’s satisfaction rating was on par with the national average.

The July 2021 storm also could have influenced public perception of the council’s performance, after it advised in September 2021 that repairs and slips were likely to take up to a year for some areas, such as the Kenepuru Sound.

Mayor Nadine Taylor said while it had been a difficult year for a variety of reasons, satisfaction levels were maintained in many areas of council services.

Marlborough mayor Nadine Taylor was reassured the survey results matched what they were also hearing from the community. Photo: Supplied/STUFF.

She said it was “quite reassuring” to hear that what they were hearing on the ground, also matched what had been found in the research.

“We are doing well in a number of services. Eight services recorded a higher satisfaction compared to the last year, but we mustn't rest on those.

“It's been a difficult year for a variety of reasons, so I'm actually pleased we've maintained and improved on those services, but we have to absolutely acknowledge that you are correct.”

She said it was “not surprising” to hear the feedback about the roading network.

“We know the impact that the storms ... we know that they're absolutely broken,” she said.

The survey was collected quarterly between 2021 and 2022 via telephone, social media and postal survey. A total of 150 surveys were used in the final analysis each quarter, meaning 600 people were surveyed.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ on Air.

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