Creating jobs and improving the local economy are the main aspirations of people in North Ayrshire, according to an official survey.
The clear message to emerge from the Household Survey 2013 is that a stronger focus needs to be placed on attracting and growing business investment in the area.
The survey was commissioned by North Ayrshire Council and found that council services, in general, prompted a customer satisfaction level up by 27% since the last report in 2007. An independent market research company conducted door-to-door interviews with 3,000 households in North Ayrshire, providing greater opportunity for customers to get across their opinions – the previous assessment was based solely on a postal questionnaire.
In welcome news for the Council, the 2013 report showed satisfaction levels of above 80% for 13 out of the 23 local authority services that were analysed. Top of the league was the library service, which scored 97% for customer satisfaction, followed by primary schools at 95% and nurseries at 93%. Other high performers were household refuse collection (93%), recycling centres (92%) and registration of births, deaths and marriages (91%).
The research company behind the survey also provided detailed feedback on the views of residents on the council as a whole, which showed 56% of respondents were ‘satisfied’ with the level of service from North Ayrshire Council: only 5% indicated they were ‘dissatisfied’.
Several areas requiring improvement were noted in the 34-page report, which was presented to a recent meeting of the Council’s ruling SNP Cabinet. The lowest-rating service was ‘roads and footpaths’, with just 28% of respondents indicating they were ‘satisfied’ with the Council’s performance.
Other areas of service-delivery where the local public are looking for improvements included neighbourhood planning, the encouragement of wider online communication between Council and customers, and greater community engagement through regular ‘Straight Talking’ forums.
A Council spokesperson indicated the local authority was also now looking at tackling North Ayrshire’s economic challenges through an initiative bringing together the public and private sectors to encourage business investment, adding, “Through the Team North Ayrshire approach a number of key local employers now have a dedicated Account Manager to work with as well as direct access to the whole range of business information and advice.
“The Household Survey provides information that is used by the Council to gauge its own performance and help with partnership planning.”
North Ayrshire Council leader, SNP councillor Willie Gibson, was delighted at the progress made since the last survey in 2007. “This latest survey shows we are making clear headway in the delivery of services. The improvements are down to nothing else but sheer hard work from everyone who works with the council,” said Cllr Gibson.
The Saltcoats & Stevenston councillor noted, “From the Chief Executive down, the entire team has pulled out the stops to make North Ayrshire Council an organisation of which everyone can be proud.
“I saw this for myself at the recent North Ayrshire Achieves night, an awards ceremony that recognises the efforts of employees. It was obvious to everyone that all our staff were enjoying doing what they do. There was a real, upbeat buzz about the place.”