5 July 2018
In a recent Community Views Survey undertaken by Whanganui District Council, 90% of residents said they were satisfied with the quality of life they experience in Whanganui.
According to the annual survey, a sense of belonging, community wellbeing, a feeling of safety and neighbourhood pride all scored higher in 2018, compared with last year.
Whanganui District Council’s Chief Executive, Kym Fell says satisfaction with quality of life was a standout result from the survey.
“These results show that that the majority of residents surveyed are likely to have healthy social networks, that they perceive Whanganui to be liveable and that their needs are met.”
The survey is a monitoring tool which contributes to the Council’s performance framework, set in the Long Term Plan and reported on in the Council’s Annual Report.
Council Policy and Engagement Officer Alex Staric, says, “The results essentially provide a pulse-check for us, providing us with a way to identify issues that may be surfacing and to recognise trends in our community as we compare results year-on-year.”
Mr Fell says the results indicate an overall trend of improvement on last year’s results, with the majority of measures seeing an increase in positive feedback on Council services and facilities.
“We are committed to continuous improvement, so when we hear that there is there is an opportunity to make our service even better, we’ll be investigating and looking to address any gaps.”
Mayor Hamish McDouall says, “This is a hugely positive survey for us. Over a third of residents have used the Sarjeant Gallery, over half have used the libraries. There are improvements in people’s feelings of wellbeing and safety and perceptions of the Mayor and elected members are the best we’ve seen in six years.”
The 2018 Community Views Survey was undertaken by Versus Research on behalf of the Council between 4 April 2018 and 28 April 2018 and canvassed a total of 500 Whanganui residents. A mixed method approach was used, with both telephone and online interviewing.
Results of the survey were presented at the Council’s Property and Community Services Committee meeting on 26 June.
Key survey results:
Safety - This year’s survey results clearly show residents are feeling safe and at levels higher than in 2017. 97% of surveyed residents feel safe in the CBD during the day and 67% in the evening. These results may encourage more people to participate in leisure, cultural and recreational activities and support an increase in tourism, business investment and a prospering night-time economy. Perceptions of safety at home during the day and evening have continued to remain at high levels.
Quality of life - Resident quality of life, a sense of belonging, community wellbeing, and neighbourhood pride have all scored higher in 2018. A standout result from this year’s survey was that 90% of residents were satisfied with the quality of life they experience in Whanganui. These results may indicate that the majority of residents surveyed have healthy social networks, that they perceive Whanganui to be liveable (e.g. in terms of housing, transport, education and parks), that their basic needs are met, and that values such as diversity and equality are reasonably shared.
Satisfaction with Council services and amenities - Resident satisfaction with the Royal Wanganui Opera House and animal management services targets were exceeded this year. Residents surveyed have welcomed the improvements and upgrades made to the Royal Wanganui Opera House. Equally, the rise in responsiveness from animal management officers and the Council’s customer-driven approach has been appreciated. The performance of Council staff has significantly increased on 2017 results, with 77% of residents rating staff performance as good/very good.
There appears to be a declining trend in the use of and satisfaction with both sportsgrounds and playgrounds and these are areas that residents have signalled need improvement. Feedback from residents has centred on accessibility, grounds maintenance and amenity preferences. Though some evidence suggests participation in organised sports is nationally trending downwards as people move to more recreational-based activities for exercise, targeted Council strategies are being developed with these shortcomings at the forefront.
Walkways - 83% of residents surveyed said they had used a district walkway and 71% were satisfied with how easy it was to travel around Whanganui. These results show our communities are active and are likely to support developments towards a sustainable and integrated transport network. Walkway usage is trending upwards and as we maintain high levels of connectivity we anticipate improvements to health outcomes for residents, along with reduced health costs.
Emergency management - Public awareness results show a significant increase with 84% of residents surveyed feeling they could survive for at least three days without outside assistance. These results are above the national average and demonstrate residents are likely to be resilient, well connected and prepared through incidents such as disasters - and recover more quickly.
Wanganui Rural Community Board - Rural residents have scored the Rural Community Board’s performance lower this year than last. It is believed these results are due to a lack of effective communication of the Board’s activities and a plan is being developed to raise the Board’s profile and ensure public messages are delivered.