Council gets big tick from residents

Lismore residents have given Lismore City Council a big thumbs up, with a recent survey finding 73 per cent of residents were satisfied with Council services.

Results of the survey were presented to Lismore City Council at a workshop on Tuesday night by Don Scott and Peter Vitartas from Southern Cross University, who conducted the survey on Councils behalf.

A total of 727 people were surveyed in October and November of 2007, with questions covering Councils entire range of services from waste and water to roads and rates, as well as the performance of councillors and their interaction with the community.

As always, it pays to have a thick skin if youre in politics.

While negative comments about councillors had fallen since the last survey in 2005, some people were frank about how they felt.

The best thing this Council could do for Lismore City and the greater Lismore area would be to replace all the current Council members with residents of the area or monkeys either is good, one respondent said.

Others suggested the current make-up of councillors wasnt representative of the diverse local community, with several commenting there were too many male councillors and they voted as a block. Others said there was not enough community consultation.

While positive comments were made about Councils performance Council does good for its ratepayers the issue of integrity drew several negative comments, with residents expressing concern about councillors motivations and accountability.

May I suggest that ICAC be contacted to investigate this Councils blatant disregard for failing to follow procedural guidelines, one resident said.

Waste services got a very favourable response with more than 90 per cent of residents satisfied, while infrastructure services was the biggest area of concern, with 41.8 per cent of respondents dissatisfied.

Residents identified a number of areas of concern, primarily infrastructure items and community services. Within infrastructure concerns related to the condition of urban and rural roads while within community services people had issues with affordability of housing, youth services and facilities for older people and people with disabilities, although some of these services are not provided by Council, Mr Vitartas said. There were a number of positives that were apparent from the survey, in particular the organic collection and waste services as well as other Council services such as the cemetery and crematorium, sporting fields and the promotion of a caring community.I

t was the condition of roads that solicited the most comments from respondents, with few of the 91 responses being positive.

We have been at our address for 47 years. Our road is no better now than it was in 1960, one resident said, while another claimed, Lismore has the worst roads in NSW.

However others were kinder.

Its not an easy job; youre trying hard with roads.

Mr Vitartas said the survey was a valuable resource Council could use as it looks to the future.

Overall satisfaction levels with Council were high and the survey has provided the Council with useful feedback on areas they can focus on for the next term, Mr Vitartas said. Its a very important tool for Council because it is one of their main means of obtaining feedback from the whole community and can inform their decision making.

As one resident succinctly put it: If you are doing a survey about what the people want, pay attention.

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