City of Ballarat have received a glowing review in a recent resident survey, but decisions around Civic Hall and council’s advocacy and engagement have caused concern.
The municipality released their full annual Community Perceptions Survey report on Tuesday, receiving a overall satisfaction score of 72 out of 100, up four points from last year.
In comparison, City of Greater Bendigo received 59 our of 100 for overall community satisfaction in the state government-run Local Government Community Satisfaction Survey. Regional centres like Ballarat on average received a score of 58 out of 100 in the Victorian government’s survey.
Councillor performance for City of Ballarat remained steady at 61.9 per cent approval.
But when it came to ‘decisions made in the interest of the community’ the city scored 55 out of 100. Those who knew about the city’s Civic Hall development only gave it a success score of 53.
In March and April this year, 803 Ballarat residents were surveyed by Melbourne consulting firm Local Government Research Group. At the 2016 Census, the city had a population of 101,686.
Ballarat’s arts and culture scored well, with a satisfaction rate of 90.4 out of 100 for those who had been to venues or events.
But residents who had used the municipality’s planning services had a more scathing response, giving it an index score of just 52.7.
In June, City of Ballarat chief executive officer Justine Linley said the municipality had decided against participating in the government-run survey in favour of “meaningful and community-specific survey work”. In 2018, only 15 out of 79 Victorian councils chose not to participate in the state government survey.
In a statement, Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh said the council would “strive” to ensure next year’s results were even better.
“It was fantastic to see that the people who use our many services are very happy with them,” she said. “However, we also know there are areas we need to work on and we will continue to work hard to make the improvements asked of us.”
“We want next year’s City of Ballarat’s survey ratings to be even better than this year and we will strive to achieve this over the next 12 months.”
The survey also took stock of how Ballarat residents access news about the city. Of the 44 per cent of people who said printed newspapers were how they typically accessed news, 92 per cent said they read The Courier. For those who read news online, 74 per cent said they accessed The Courier online.
Fourty-four per cent of people said they typically accessed news via television, with 56 per cent of those watching WIN News, 37 per cent watching PRIME/7 and 36 per cent watching Nine.