We Asked, You Said, We're Responding...Residents' Survey Results
Your views are helping to share our plans for the next five years.
West Berkshire Council has recently completed a residents' survey to help inform the Council's Strategy for the next five years.
A new Council Strategy will be adopted next year (running from 2023 to 2027). It will set out the Council's priorities for improvement as well as its delivery of core services such as roads, schools and social care.
To ensure residents' views shape Council's future strategy, surveys were sent to 5,000 addresses with an invitation to take part in a survey. Addresses were selected randomly in a way which would ensure the results represented communities across the district. In total, 1,248 survey responses were received - a good response rate which allows the data to be statistically representative of the entire population of West Berkshire.
A summary of what residents told us, and what we're already doing, is available below.
Speaking about the results Councillor Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council said:
"The information that residents have given us will help us to reflect their priorities in our plans for the coming five years. Since we received the results we've started responding to them, but there is more that we want to do and this will be reflected in our longer-term strategy. I want to thank everyone who completed the survey and their views with us.
"The survey results will be used more widely than influencing the new strategy. We will be looking at how we can enhance our communication and engagement with under-represented groups and to further improve how we put the residents at the heart of all that we do."
Whilst the survey results are representative of the district's population as a whole, the Council recognises that more should, and will be, done to engage groups of residents where response rates were lowed. These includes the voices of younger people (16-44-year-olds), residents in Thatcham North East ward, and from more deprived areas. In addition to usual survey based consultations with a number of actions to ensure that children and young people under-16 have the opportunity to provide their feedback and to better interact with the Council. Such activities include a Hackathon session (presenting a challenge and working with young people so they suggest the solution) and other online and face to face engagement sessions, including with primary school pupils.
As well as informing the Council Strategy 2023-27 the results from the survey will also guide the Council in future opportunities to communicate and engage with residents.
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Survey results are reported in five key areas with the following key findings:
Attitudes towards the local area
- Overall, a high proportion of residents are satisfied with the local area (89%) and with the way the Council runs things (64%). This compares favourably with comparative data from the Local Government Association, where the results are 78% and 56% respectively.
- 33% of residents would speak positively about the Council compared to 16% that would speak negatively.
- Of the residents that contacted the Council in the previous six months, 56% reported a positive experience, compared to 15% that reported a negative one.
- Work is underway to better inform our residents about the services we deliver, our lower costs compared to similar councils and to adopt a customer charter developed with our residents.
Service improvement and prioritisation
- The areas with the highest proportion of residents considering that require improvement are:
- Environment: in particular, the desire for better recycling/waste management/more materials collected and improved facilities/services
- Development and Planning: concerns about the quality of the planning process and effects of overdevelopment
- Communities and Wellbeing: adesire for more/improved services, concerns about insufficient support
- Education: the need for additional funding, improved choice and Special Educational Needs (SEN) support
- Adult Social Care: the need for better services, support, facilities and funding).
- Over 60% of residents stated that they would take actions to help achieve carbon neutrality.
- The Council has started making improvements, including making good progress to extend the advice, support and tools made available to residents to support more recycling, composting and reusing. Plans are well under way to offer a separate food waste service. We are working to prepare a new development plan and are finalising a review of our Planning Service (through a Place Review) to better respond to residents' needs. The needs for Health and Wellbeing, Education, Social care and other services are being re-assessed so we can prioritise the services that West Berkshire residents need over the next four years.
Sense of belonging, safety and community
- More than three quarters of residents reported that locally people get on well together and that friendships and associations in the neighbourhood meant a lot to them.
- More than half of the respondents agree that local people pull together to improve the local area. Under a third responded that they have volunteered in the previous 12 months and they intend to do so in the future.
- The problems in their local areas are rubbish or litter laying around (44% of residents reported this) and people using or dealing drugs (32%).
- We have agreed with the contractor for street cleanliness to progressively re-focus on this activity after they had to divert staff to bins collection due to Covid sickness levels. The Council waste officers have increased the monitoring across the district. We are encouraging residents to report any concerns or provide any intelligence to Thames Valley Police via 101 telephone number or the website, so that the Police can use that information adapt their patrol plans. The Council work closely with the Thames Valley Police within the Building Communities Together partnership. In addition, the Building Communities Together team in particular works very closely with the Neighbourhood Police Teams within the District.
Communications and engagement
- Almost 60% of the residents agreed that the Council acts on their concerns and that they felt well informed about services and benefits provided by the Council
- 45% responded that they were not aware of the e-bulletins from the Council - you can sign up to these here: www.westberks.gov.uk/signup
- 48% of the residents have contacted the Council in the previous six months to request services, report a problem or request information
- 20% agree that they can influence decisions that affect their local area, whilst 47% disagreed.
- A high proportion of residents (75%) prefer to receive information about the Council by e-mail. Subgroups of population (older residents, diverse ethnic groups) prefer other methods (phone, face to face) of communication.
- We have planned a number of activities (including the Residents' Survey), as part of our Communications and Engagement Strategy, focusing on improving the ways in which we are communicating with residents and how we reach out to ensure that people and businesses that usually do not or can not take the opportunities to express their views, are proactively invited to inform the Council's decisions and to shape the ways in which we deliver Council services.
- The overall results show that West Berkshire residents reported a high level of life satisfaction, feeling worthwhile and happy. The anxiety score is within the low thresholds.
- Approximately a quarter of the residents reported low and medium well-being score. These results are within the same thresholds as the national results reported for the period just before the start of the pandemic.
- The wellbeing of all our residents is what we are seeking to achieve through a number of plans such as the Council's Recovery Strategy or the partnership Health and Wellbeing Strategy.