Latest residents survey presented to East Lothian Council

Latest residents survey presented to East Lothian Council

The main findings of the latest East Lothian 2021 Residents’ Survey were presented at the full council meeting held on Tuesday 23 August.

East Lothian Council, on behalf of East Lothian Partnership, commissioned Research Resource to carry out the 2021 Residents’ Survey which was undertaken using a self-completion methodology.

The Residents’ Survey has previously been undertaken using a face-to-face methodology, most recently in 2019. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it was decided that face-to-face interviews would not be possible; therefore, a different methodology was adopted for the 2021 survey, which means that the results from previous surveys are not directly comparable.

The survey was sent by post to a representative sample of 16,000 East Lothian residents with a total of 3,158 responses received.

As in previous surveys, topics covered in the 2021 survey included: Neighbourhood and Quality of Life, Community Safety, Health and Wellbeing, Perceptions of the Council, satisfaction with Public Services, and Local Priorities. This latest survey also included questions on the Impact of COVID-19, Priorities for Recovery from COVID-19, and Travel and Transport.

A large majority of respondents expressed high levels of satisfaction with their neighbourhood as a place to live, with 94% identifying their neighbourhood as either a ‘very good’ (51%) or ‘fairly good’ (43%) place to live and the respondents also expressed very high levels of satisfaction with living in East Lothian, with 96% identifying that East Lothian was either a ‘very good’ (60%) or ‘fairly good’ (36%) place to live.

Respondents were asked for their views on what most needed improved in their local area. The issues that most respondents suggested need improving were:

  • Health Services – 53%
  • Road and pavement repairs – 53%
  • Traffic congestion – 38%
  • Activities for Teenagers – 34%
  • Affordable decent housing – 28%
  • Care for older people – 27%

The survey also asked respondents to rate their satisfaction with a range of public services with the levels from 2019 survey in brackets.

Council services

  • Parks, gardens and open spaces 71% (98%)
  • Waste & recycling services 60% (94%)
  • Libraries 64% (93%)
  • Schools 58% (92%)
  • Council House repairs service 34% (90%)
  • Play areas 52% (89%)
  • Support for frail/ older people 32% (87%)
  • Street cleaning 45% (86%)
  • Roads maintenance 26% (69%)
  • Other public services
  • Fire Service 66% (97%)
  • Dental services 52% (96%)
  • Hospital outpatients 54% (95%)
  • Hospital A&E 39% (95%)
  • Police 41% (94%)
  • Swimming pools / sports centres 63% (94%)
  • GP services 38% (87%)
  • Local bus service 60% (79%)

The 2021 survey included questions about people’s experience of the COVID pandemic. 84% of respondents said they were concerned about how society in general will cope with the impact of COVID. Also 45% said their mental health had worsened compared to only 8% who said it had improved.

The survey asked people for their views on priorities for recovery after COVID. The top priorities were:

  • Growing the economy
  • Reducing inequality and poverty
  • Tackling climate change
  • Helping our children and young people
  • Reducing health inequalities and supporting people to live healthier, more active and independent lives

Council leader, Norman Hampshire, said: “I am very grateful to those residents who took the time to complete and return the survey. The questions asked were designed to establish residents’ views on both general and specific aspects of life in East Lothian and their responses help inform the Council and Community Planning partners of public views and perceptions. This in turn provides a greater insight into where our communities seek service improvements or support.”

“The differences in data received in this latest survey in comparison to previous years may be due to a number of factors including public concerns both during and after the peak of the pandemic. We know, for example, that at the time of the survey being carried out some council and other public services were still severely impacted by staff absences and the temporary closures of facilities as required by Scottish Government guidelines.

“We understand the frustrations in our communities after two years of their life being turned upside down with the pandemic. Council Staff continued to work hard during the pandemic and to deliver services to their normal high standards and in particular supporting those most vulnerable during this time.”

He added: “The Council is using the survey to help determine priorities for the future. For example, we have already taken steps that reflect the concerns about anti-social behaviour and lack of activities for teenagers exacerbated by the COVID lockdown, increasing spend on youth work and capital investment in facilities such as pump tracks. And the public’s priorities for recovery from COVID are the priorities in the new Council Plan – Recovery and Renewal, reducing poverty and inequality and responding to the climate emergency.

“With the Covid restrictions on us and limited resources it has not always been possible to keep things the way our communities expect. However, I would like to assure our residents and businesses that East Lothian Council staff will continue to do everything they can to recover all our services and facilities to the high standards our communities expect. The recovery however will take some time to deliver as local authorities continue to face severe financial challenges and the uncertainty around energy costs in particular will impact business and council services in addition to households.”

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