Almost 8 out of 10 Sutton residents feel that their Liberal Democrat-led council is doing a good job while 9 out of 10 are satisfied with the borough as a place to live. These are the official findings from an independent survey which is carried out every two years to tell the council where people think it might do things better.
This year M.E.L Research questioned 1,022 Sutton residents aged 16+ and reflecting the age, work status and gender profile of the population.
The percentage of respondents satisfied with how the council runs services has risen two points in the past two years to 78 per cent. The satisfaction rate for Sutton as a place to live has been maintained at 90 per cent compared with 2013.
Ruth Dombey, Lib Dem Leader of Sutton Council, was encouraged by the findings: “These results show our residents appreciate just how hard Sutton Council is working to continue to provide high-quality services at a time when we are having to make massive savings in all areas.”
She continued: “Unprecedented Government cuts to our budget are forcing us to save £74m between 2011 and 2019. So far we have been able to find £43m from our annual budget, with most of the cuts (£32m) being made without affecting frontline services.”
However Ruth Dombey warned that the remaining £31m savings being forced on the council would result in services being changed, reduced and in some cases stopped. This was likely to show up in the results of future surveys.
The council has placed great importance on involving Sutton residents in making decisions about its services. In July 2013 it launched the Sutton’s Future campaign as part of a major consultation programme and so far more than 10,000 responses have been received.
The campaign has resulted in a rise in:
- the percentage of people saying they feel informed about how council tax is spent (65 per cent in 2015 compared with 48 per cent in 2013)
- the percentage of people who feel informed about council services and benefits (from49 per cent in 2013 to 64 per cent in 2015), and
- in the percentage of people who they feel they can influence council-run services (up from 44 per cent in 2013 to 51 per cent in 2015)
Ruth Dombey said: “We have protected frontline services as much as possible by being at the forefront of new ways of working such as sharing our services with other councils.
“We will continue to be resourceful and innovative in what we do, for example by setting up our own housing company to build affordable homes, by establishing a decentralised energy network and through our plans for the world’s leading centre for cancer treatment and drug development in the borough,” Ruth said.
“Unfortunately, the continued cuts will mean we have to scale down or stop many services, but we will always do our best for the people of Sutton with the money we have.
“We are particularly pleased that more people feel informed about services and that they can influence what we do. As the public sector reduces in size, there is an opportunity for people to get more involved in looking after their borough, especially where our residents want to see improvements."
Other survey results included:
- Most residents (98 per cent) feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhood during the day. Even after dark, three-quarters (75 per cent) feel sale, compared with 71 per cent in 2013. Levels of concern about burglary and antisocial behaviour have continued to drop since 2011 (48 per cent to 41 per cent for burglary, and 37 per cent to 35 per cent over antisocial behaviour).
- More than half of residents want to know what the council is doing but do not wish to be further involved, while 13 per cent want to be more involved or have a say in what the council is doing.
- The satisfaction level with Sutton Council has risen consistently since 2009, when just under three-quarters (72 per cent) of residents thought the council was doing a good job. Just over six in 10 (61 per cent) agree that the council provides value for money, up from 54 per cent in 2013.
- Residents on the whole appear to be reasonably satisfied with specific council services. Since 2013, resident satisfaction has increased for borough theatres, the arts and events, historic places and museums, playgrounds, sport and swimming facilities, and pavement and road maintenance.
- However, resident satisfaction has fallen for recycling (down from 85 per cent in 2013 to 77 per cent in 2015), street cleaning (down from 76 per cent to 69 per cent), refuse collection (from 88 per cent to 82 per cent), and parks and open spaces (down from 87 per cent in 2013 to 82 per cent in 2015).
- But resident satisfaction remained the same in 2013 and 2015 for parking (46 per cent), libraries (73 per cent) and street lighting (81 per cent).
To see the full report click here.