Residents have their say in setting future of Mid Devon

Joseph Bulmer

Supporting local businesses and the high street is one of the key priorities for the residents of Mid Devon, according to a new survey. So, too is climate change.

The Mid Devon Council resident and budget survey saw more than 1,600 residents complete a special questionnaire.

Results  have been used to feed into the council’s budget setting process and will be used to help steer future plans and the prioritising of services.

Questions included topics such as climate change and economic recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as listening to how communities feel about the council’s current service provision and where they can improve.

Supporting businesses was deemed 'very important' by  62.36 per cent of those surveyed - 1,153 responded in total.

Also under the 'very important' rating came delivering housing for local people (59.01 per cent); promoting activities that improve the public's health (47.22 per cent); supporting parks and open spaces (46.09 per cent); introducing measures to encourage more walking and cycling (41.72); supporting people who lose their jobs (41.72 per cent); supporting people who self isolate (41.43 per cent).

Ninety per cent felt it fairly or very important for MDDC to tackle climate change.

The results of a month-long survey open to all Mid Devon residents were recently discussed by the council’s cabinet

Council leader Bob Deed said: “I would like to thank those who took the time to share their views with us.  We represent you and your community, it is important for us to know your priorities, where you feel savings should be made and which areas we need to invest in.  With budget cuts and costs increasing it has been a challenge to balance the books. We must ensure we protect the services that matter most to our residents.”

Each year the Council has to balance its spending against money available in the form of Government grants, council tax and business rates.

Over the last decade the council has delivered a range of efficiencies totalling over £4million whilst continuing to deliver key services.  Set against a challenging financial backdrop the council has also  managed to set a balanced budget for 2022/23 and already includes significant provision for a carbon reduction programme and to deliver at least 500 new social housing units over the next five years.

The survey in November 2021 which ran for one month.  Whilst it was an online survey, paper copies were also available and this was publicised.  Customer services staff were also able to assist anyone who was unable to complete the form, but wanted to have their say.

The survey was shared as far as possible using in-house communication team resources. This included sending posters, social media graphics and the survey link to all parish clerks, members, staff,  primary schools, local press, social media (including local Facebook groups such as Positive) and the Cullompton & Crediton Community Noticeboard and What’s on Tiverton.

Posters were also displayed at the Market Walk Vaccination site as well as Tiverton Pannier Market and the three Mid Devon leisure centres.  1,682 people clicked on the survey link, with 1,161 answering the questions. It showed 81 per cent of residents are very or fairly satisfied with their local area as a place to live.

A total of 51 per cent are very or fairly satisfied with the way MDDC runs things, 23 per cent fairly or very dissatisfied.

The findijngs showed 41 per cent strongly agree or tend to agree MDDC provides value for money, 38 per cent feel the council acts on concerns of residents while 49 per cent think the council does not.

A total of 45 per cent feel very or fairly well informed and 48 per cent trust MDDC a fair amount or a great deal.

Fifty per cent trusted their local council to make decisions about local services, compared to three per cent trusting the Government.  A total of 57 per cent trusted their local councillor to make decisions for their local area, but 38 per cent didn’t trust any of their councillors, MPs or government ministers.