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Community’s satisfaction with Mitchell Shire Council slumps to five-year-low

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Grace Frost
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By Grace Frost

Perceptions of Mitchell Shire Council’s performance have plummeted to a five-year-low, as outlined in this year’s Victorian Community Satisfaction Survey, CSS.

The CSS is an annual, statewide telephone survey that collects and provides Victorian councils with insight on its residents’ perception of council’s performance, its community consultation and engagement, customer service and overall council direction.

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A minimum of 400 residents over the age of 18 from each participating municipality are selected at random to participate in the survey each year. Results are collected as index scores out of 100.

This year marked the first time surveys were conducted quarterly to inform the annual results.

The 2023 survey included 66 of 79 councils in Victoria, with results showing Mitchell Shire struggled to keep up with average performance rankings.

Summary of Mitchell Shire Council’s performance across core measures, 2014-2023. [Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, 2022 Local Government Community Satisfaction Survey]

Perceptions of council’s overall performance ‘decreased significantly’ over the past 12 months, with Mitchell Shire residents rating council’s overall performance at 46, 10 below the statewide average, 56, and six below the large rural municipality average of 52.

The results ended a period of stability in council’s ratings, which had lasted for four years. Mitchell council’s previous overall performances were 51 in 2022; 53 in 2021; 52 in 2020; 55 in 2019; and 54 in 2018.

The state-wide average recorded significantly higher than Mitchell Shire in every service area.

Mitchell Shire Council chief executive officer Brett Luxford said council was disappointed to see the results.

“We’re disappointed to see the results drop back, but we are encouraged that the majority of people surveyed, 67 per cent, rate council’s overall performance as average, good or very good,” he said.

“We will continue to monitor the results and do some further work to investigate what might be driving the difference in results between the locations across the shire.”

Council received its highest praise from community members in the north ward who rated council’s overall performance at 55, while central ward residents scored council 43 and south ward residents 44.

People aged 35 to 49 were the toughest critics with a score of 41.

Council’s top performing service areas were the appearance of public areas, 63; emergency and disaster management, 62; and waste management, 61.

Community satisfaction was lowest in road services, scraping in 33 for sealed local roads, the lowest score in 10 years.

Results for unsealed roads were 32, a decrease of 11 since 2019.

Nearly 60 per cent of people surveyed rated the shire’s sealed local roads as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ in quality, with just three per cent rating them ‘very good’.

Showing its importance to residents, sealed local roads was ranked the most important service area by survey participants in the Mitchell Shire, with an index score of 85.

Mr Luxford said ‘there is no question’ that sustained wet weather as well as last year’s floods, which resulted in 54 local roads closing at the peak of the event, had an impact.

“We understand the importance of this issue to our community and are actively addressing it,” he said.

“Our recently adopted council budget includes significant allocations for road projects, including $7.2 million in our capital works program towards the construction and upgrade of roads. This is in addition to our road maintenance funding.”

The community’s outcry for road repairs extended beyond the Mitchell Shire, with the survey recording a state-wide average of 37 for unsealed roads and 48 for sealed roads – a significant drop since last year. 

Council performance in enforcement of local laws, environmental sustainability, planning and building permits and population growth also significantly decreased since last year.

“It has been a difficult 12 months with many challenges thrown our way, particularly the October 2022 storms and major flooding as well as difficult economic conditions with high cost-of-living pressures affecting Mitchell residents across the board,” Mr Luxford said.

“We are committed to understanding the needs and expectations of our residents and will use the survey results, along with other feedback throughout the year, to guide our efforts in providing better service and to help shape future budgets and plans as we strive to meet the expectations of our community with the resources we have available.”

See Mitchell Shire Council’s full response, with quotes attributable to Mr Luxford.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Not surprised – 3 Central Ward councillors invisible since the ,set election, roads a mess and not one commitment from the CEO (in your report) to lift their game. We need some committed candidates for the 2024 election to get some focus into this sad organisation.

  2. Yes, I am very impressed with the Sydney Street beautification by the Shire and local traders. I really like how they interspersed the potholes along with the bluestone rumble strips in the middle of the road.

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