York residents give their views in city-wide survey
Cabinet will be asked to review the findings of the Big York Survey and a report on City of York Council’s performance over the last quarter, on the 6th November.
Since the last quarterly finance update in July, extensive mitigation measures and efficiency savings have been implemented to reduce the council’s forecast financial pressures. As a result, the council is reporting an improved financial position of pressures at £2.5 million at this stage.
Despite this still challenging financial position, the council has demonstrated strong areas of performance in delivering services for York, which link directly to those priorities identified by residents in the Big York Survey, carried out this summer.
Over 90 per cent of residents who took part in the Survey said they were satisfied or very satisfied with living in York, adding weight to the city’s reputation as a great place to live, work, visit and invest. Residents have also seen an improvement in the way the council delivers its services, with 63 per cent saying they were satisfied, compared to 44 per cent in 2008.
Residents felt that the most important aspects in making York such a good place to live were the low levels of crime in the city, access to good health services, their children being able to attend good schools, being able to benefit from good public transport links, seeing the city with clean streets and the availability of affordable decent housing. Residents also identified areas for further improvement, including traffic flow around the city, roads and pavement maintenance and job prospects.
With the Safer York Partnership in place, York is seen as a safe place to live with 80 per cent of residents agreeing that their local area is free from crime and violence. The council’s performance report states that crime is also predicted to be down by a further 9.5% this year.
The council’s i-Travel York and Access York programmes are addressing the concerns of residents, by improving highways, existing transport services and access to travel information across the city. The council’s Smarter York programme is also tasked with improving the appearance of public spaces and sees the council working directly with residents and ward members to achieve this.
York continues to be a national leader in education provision with recent performance figures showing that the ‘attainment gap’ for Key Stage 2 and 4 qualifications is narrowing.
The Survey also highlights jobs prospects as a priority for residents, with the performance report outlining York’s success in attracting approximately 800 new jobs to the city this year. Job seeker numbers are also still well below regional and national averages, despite the ongoing difficult economic climate.
Business registration rates are increasing (BRES data 2012) in the city, helped by the delivery of the York Economic Strategy. This has already seen the formation of the York Means Business Portal and the high growth business support programme – Growth Accelerator – to support businesses in the city and those wishing to locate in York. This drive has been particularly focused on the creation of higher skilled, higher value jobs, such as the recently announced investments by Hiscox Insurance and Access Intelligence.
Affordable housing remains a priority for residents and the council’s Get York Building programme is now underway, with the Strategic Housing Forum being launched next week, to provide an increased focus in this area.
Cllr James Alexander, Labour leader for City of York Council said: “The Big York Survey demonstrates that satisfaction with council services and the city have gone up since 2008, which is good news. We understand that residents are wanting more engagement and this is why we are promoting and adding to the ways in which residents can get in touch with us and give their views and ideas.
“We are also looking to expand York’s reach through our investment in business support and internationalisation programme. Our involvement in Leeds City Region and the Association of West Yorkshire Authorities will help to ensure the city has an influence in the economic future of the region”.
Kersten England, Chief Executive of City of York Council adds: “Our Council Tax is the 8th lowest and we have the 12th lowest amount of funding from Government in the country, with £40 million of cuts having to be accommodated over the last three years. This feedback from residents gives confidence that despite these factors; our residents believe that our front line services have improved and that York is a great place to live and work.”
The Big York Survey is the first city-wide satisfaction survey since the ‘Place Survey’ in 2008 and Cabinet are being asked to agree to the Survey being conducted on an annual basis. The Survey was completed by 1,117 residents across York via postal, face to face and online channels.
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