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Are you satisfied?

Geoff Helisma | A survey measuring the community’s satisfaction and priorities regarding 23 facilities and services managed by Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has returned a mixed bag of results. The survey – conducted by Coffs Harbour-based research consultants, Jetty Research – quizzed 400 randomly chosen residents who live in the Clarence Valley local government area (LGA). Rated on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0, libraries (4.19) and lifeguards (4.10) topped the poll, with management of sewerage (3.99), waste and recycling (3.81), water supply (3.77) and sporting facilities (3.75) the other top scorers. Maintenance of unsealed roads (2.23), development application processing (2.68), maintenance of sealed roads (2.72), economic development (2.82) and tourism management (2.90) all failed to make the grade – mean satisfaction was measured at 3.0. A matrix measuring “importance v satisfaction” found that CVC “is significantly exceeding expectations (i.e. satisfaction outweighing expectations) in online services, libraries, lifeguards, cultural facilities, council pools, sewerage and sporting facilities”, the report states. “However, it is perceived to be underperforming (i.e. expectations outweighing satisfaction) in relation to sealed and unsealed roads, economic development, protection of the natural environment, footpaths and cycleways, waste and recycling, water supply, tourism marketing, maintenance of bridges, flood plain and coastline management and maintenance of public toilets.” In comparison to six other surrounding and Mid North Coast councils, the survey found that perceptions of CVC’s management of “infrastructure has performed slightly better in relation to public toilets, footpaths and cycleways, sporting facilities and sewage collection and treatment. “It has performed slightly worse for water supply, and significantly worse for unsealed roads and council pools. “The council was deemed significantly better than its peers at dog control and waste and recycling. “However, it was significantly below average in relation to parks and playgrounds, and tourism marketing.” The council’s overall satisfaction score scraped into the “neutral” band, scoring 3.07, compared to the average overall satisfaction score for the seven councils, 3.10. The survey allows for “a margin for error of +/- 4.9 per cent at a 95 per cent confidence level”. Forty-three respondents were aged 60-plus, 34 per cent 40 to 59 and 24 per cent were aged 18 to 39 – 51 per cent of respondents were female. On a regional basis, 16 per cent of respondents lived in the Maclean/Yamba area, 44 per cent in South Grafton and Grafton, and 40 per cent resided elsewhere across the valley. “The survey was conducted using a random fixed line and mobile telephone poll of residents aged 18+; respondents were selected at random from a verified random sample residential telephone database of 3,367 telephone numbers within the LGA,” the report states. The report to the October 16 CVC meeting advised councillors the survey “provides a useful benchmarking tool as we review and revise our service delivery models and methods and our processes and systems”. The report advised that CVC “intended [to] repeat the survey … in coming years, to review the effectiveness of our efforts”. The report to council did not disclose the cost of the survey, however, it stated there were “no budgetary implications in adopting” the report. Councillors adopted the officer’s recommendation unanimously, to “receive and note” the survey – it was not discussed or debated.