Media release: Community wants local decisions made locally

Three-quarters of residents and ratepayers believe councils are the best sphere of government to make decisions about local areas, compared to just 27% that preferred the state doing so, according to new research.

The research, undertaken in May this year and released at the Local Government NSW Annual Conference in Sydney, also found 82% were happy with their local council, with responses ranging from “somewhat satisfied” to “very satisfied”.

The most common reason for satisfaction given was councils’ knowledge and understanding of the local community.

LGNSW Chief Executive Donna Rygate said the overall image of councils had improved significantly over five years, with 61% now rating their council’s image as good to excellent , and only 16% describing council image as poor or below.

Respondents nominated council competency, trust, acting in the best interest of local communities, financial management and value for money as the reasons for their response.

They also had strong opinions on the most important issues facing communities and local government over the next decade.

“Respondents from larger council areas nominated roads as the most important issue, followed by the effects of perceived overdevelopment and the need to ensure infrastructure growth matches population increases,” Ms Rygate said.

“Residents from small and medium-sized local government areas were concerns with their local economy and support for business and employment, as well as roads.”

Interestingly, communities were not opposed to paying more if it resulted in get better quality local services, facilities and infrastructure:  73% of all responses ranged from “at least somewhat supportive” to “very supportive”.

The research, undertaken by Micromex Research and Consulting, remains consistent with previous research, which found:

  • overall trust was higher for local councils (60%) than for state (51%) or federal (58%) governments (Meyer et al, Demographic Indicators of Trust in Federal State and Local Government 2013)
  • key drivers of satisfaction with local government were values and vision, with actual performance also contributing to 43% of image (Micromex, NSW LGA Perceptions Study 2012).
  • Residents who feel their councils are performing well and their interests being well represented don’t necessarily want to get involved in local decision-making (Ipsos Social Research Institute, One World, Many Places, 2010).

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Read the Community Research Background Summary

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