Councillors query resident survey
‘‘We are sticking to landlines. We are not going to get the true representation, there are soo many people not using landlines.’’ Councillor Miriam Morton
Fewer Waimate District people were satisfied with their information centre after it moved to the district’s $5.5 million events centre, a resident survey reveals.
The Waimate District Council Communitrak Survey shows 47 per cent of people were either fairly or very satisfied with the information centre’s services when polled in March and April.
That was a significant drop on 2015, when the centre was still on Waimate’s main street, when 64 per cent of respondents were either fairly or very satisfied.
This year, 21 per cent were not very satisfied in the relocated service. Only 1 per cent of respondents said the same thing in 2015.
The main reason given for the dissatisfaction was that the new location was hard to find, the survey found. A small group also said the move was against public opinion.
Waimate District councillors considered the report at a council meeting on Tuesday. Some questioned the methodology and accuracy of the National Research Bureau survey of 300 people.
Councillor Miriam Morton doubted the survey provided a true representation as the interviews were conducted by telephone. Not all residents had or used telephones.
Instead, a great deal many residents used mobile phones of social media, she said.
‘‘We are sticking to landlines. We are not going to get the true representation, there are soo many people not using landlines.
‘‘I don’t know how we can do it or if there is a way.’’
The survey found people were most likely to be fairly or very satisfied with the district’s parks, reserves and gardens; dog and animal control; camping facilities; water supply and service; cemeteries, district libraries and waste management.
Satisfaction with district roads improved. Sixty seven per cent of respondents were fairly or very satisfied, up from 58 per cent, and 33 per cent were not very satisfied, from 41 per cent in 2015.
The overall performance of council staff rated higher than the national average. As with 2015, 66 per cent of respondents rated them fairly or very good. The national average was 57 per cent.
Council chief executive Stuart Duncan identified roads and footpaths as areas of improvement, and noted the information service was ‘‘raised quite prominently’’.
The survey found 30 per cent of respondents were not very satisfied with footpaths.
Deputy mayor Sharyn Cain said the overall satisfaction of user services, such as with parks and reserves, water supply and waste management, was a stand-out.
She noted those who used such services were likely to rate them highly, but that those who were not users did not: ‘‘Peoples perception of what we are doing is different to the reality.’’
Councillor Tom O’Connor urged councillors to be cautious with the data as it was ‘‘a blunt instrument. It is very hard to draw conclusions’’.
Perceptions of dissatisfaction were not entirely accurate.
For example, someone asking for a rates remission might leave unsatisfied because the request was refused, even if the service was satisfactory and correct, he said.
Councillors should not ‘‘beat themselves up’’. The data provided a trend and suggested where improvements might be made.
‘‘If you want precision then you need and more expensive and extensive tool and until we can get cellphones [into the method] there is not much we can do,’’ he said.
Community planning and development group manager Carolyn Johns highlighted residents’ use of newspapers. Some 77 per cent of respondents got their council information from newspapers.
The use of social media as a communication tool had also increased, from 2 per cent in 2015 to 7 per cent in 2017.
‘‘I expect that to jump significantly now we have a Facebook page,’’ Johns said.
Some Waimate District councillors questioned the methodology of a survey of 300 people.