Wed, 18 Oct 2017
WEST Berkshire Council has insisted that a survey it sent out – asking residents to rate how much they value a number of public services – is not related to any proposed cuts.
The council has been forced to make more than £60m of savings since 2010, which has seen libraries and children’s centres close and many bus services scrapped.
However, the council has provided reassurances and instead says that the questionnaire, which was distributed to 3,300 people at random, gives people “an opportunity to help improve public transport and roads” in the district.
It added that the results will “enable us to find out what local people think about these important services”.
As an incentive for taking part in the survey, there are cash prizes of up to £500 on offer for those who complete and return it.
A spokesman for West Berkshire Council, Martin Dunscombe, said: “This survey is unrelated to any savings programme.
“It is an annual survey we do to understand how well we are doing compared to other councils and also to understand what our residents think of local highways/transport services.
“It helps us to maintain and improve these services and in fact can open doors to additional funding through showing a research/evidence-based approach to these services.”
However, West Berkshire Council’s portfolio holder for highways and transport, Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft), admitted the results of the survey would “help us prioritise” resources.
She added: “Whether we live in town or country we all rely on West Berkshire’s road network to get around.
“We invest heavily in our roads, although at a time when resources are precious we still have to make difficult decisions about how we prioritise this funding.
“The results of this survey will help us prioritise those resources and identify best practice from around the country.
“I’d encourage anyone who receives a survey to take part and make their views count.”
One resident, who didn’t want to be named, described the questionnaire as a “waste of money and time”.
The resident added: “It is an embarrassment that so-called professional people can resort to such infantile methods – it looks like something you fill in at school.
“All public services are important, and all of them should be provided by the council.
“That’s what we pay council tax for.”
West Berkshire Council is one of 112 local authorities to sign up to the standardised survey.
The survey, which is being run for the 10th year, is the largest collaboration between local authorities
The results are due to be published later this month.
The council employed Ipsos Mori to send out the survey, which consists of 21 questions.