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Residents say road quality is still the biggest gripe

Residents say road quality is still the biggest gripe
Low levels of satisfaction with the district's roading network pin the annual residents' survey may be down to “default attribution” a researcher says.

Ashburton District residents have been suspected of listing the state of our roading network as their number one gripe only because it’s a “default’’ response.

That’s the call from Key Research managing director Mike Hooker, who has presented the executive summary of the annual residents' survey, which again showed the highest cause for dissatisfaction was the roading network.

It showed that 66% of residents, from the 873 who completed the survey, listed roading issues as the primary reason for dissatisfaction.

But Hooker questioned that.

“It’s a perennial issue for the council and it’s also what we refer to as a default attribute,” Hooker said.

“When residents are struggling to give a reason for dissatisfaction, they are defaulting to the roading network.”

The residents’ road satisfaction levels were the opposite of the council’s end-of-year performance report, which recorded the district's sealed local road network as being 98% smooth.

Councillor Carolyn Cameron said she was “fascinated” by that figure, and asked for an explanation.

Roading manager Mark Chamberlain said the smoothness figure was produced “by a machine that goes round and measures roughness”.

“While there are faults on it, the overall network is very good,” he said.

Chief executive Hamish Riach said the council knew the community is dissatisfied with the state of the roads, especially the number of potholes.

The roading network suffered from back-to-back wet winters and now, coming off a drier winter, the contractors hope to get ahead of the problems, Riach said.

“With additional resources, additional attention, and a little bit of luck from the weather, we are optimistic we can improve perceptions of the network.”

The satisfaction with the sealed roads increased up 2% to 26%. Last year's result was the lowest it had, with pothole issues.

The residents’ survey asked what the council should spend more on.

Hooker said this resulted in the “default attribute”, with 61% pointing to roading.

The council resealed 4.9% (75km) of the network in 2022/23, which came down to funding, Chamberlain said.

The survey also highlighted that Ashburton residents were more satisfied than those outside the town boundary, Hooker said.

“If you live in the Ashburton township, you are much more likely to be satisfied with every attribute that we measure than those that live in the rest of the district.”

Again, roading was the example, with Ashburton having a 33% satisfaction level with the state of the roads, while the rest of the district was at 15%.

Survey says…

Improved reaction to the drinking water quality, but not from Methven.

That was another finding of the council-driven annual residents’ survey, which found there was a 6% jump in satisfaction with the quality of the drinking water supply.

But respondents from boil-water notice-plagued Methven remained low at 31% satisfaction.

Satisfaction with overall rubbish and recycling services (85%) and kerbside collection (84%) dropped slightly, with 40% of dissatisfied residents having no service available.

The survey also raised concerns that there were no bins provided for green waste, which was mentioned by 19% of respondents.

Respondents believed the council should be spending more on roading and spending less on the library, council buildings, water feature, and Christmas lights.

The 2022/23 residents' survey was carried out in four stages throughout the year, both online (92%) and in hard copy.

By Jonathan Leask