John and Jean Ashton.
John and Jean Ashton. The Northern Star

Ballina Shire Council doing its job

IN the 27 years Alstonville couple Jean and John Ashton have lived in the Ballina Shire, they have never felt unsafe.

However, they still rate crime prevention and law and order initiatives as one of their main priorities, and would like to see it become a greater focus of attention.

The results of the recently-released Ballina Shire Council community survey paint a good picture of the council's performance over the past 12 months, with 72.3 per cent of the 600 residents surveyed saying they were happy and satisfied with the council's performance.

However, the survey also identified a few things ratepayers want the council to pay more attention to, including crime prevention and maintenance of roads.

“We have always felt safe in the shire, we're quite fortunate,” Mrs Ashton said.

“But law and order is an issue everywhere and should be considered, so I'm not surprised it is at the top of the list (of ratepayer priorities).

“One thing that could be done is community groups working together to provide more positive things for young people to do – that way they won't hang around the local parks being noisy on Friday and Saturday nights.”

However, the couple said they were generally satisfied with the performance of the Ballina Shire Council, which reflects the view of the majority of residents surveyed.

The Community Research report, prepared for the council by Central Coast-based company Micromex Research, found just six per cent of those surveyed were dissatisfied with the council's performance, and 22 per cent were neutral.

Those residents who were dissatisfied with council's performance listed lack of community consultation and deterioration of roads as the reasons they felt that way.

“This level of dissatisfaction is particularly low and compares favourably with a developed Local Government Area benchmark,” researchers from Micromex Research reported.

Ballina Mayor Phillip Silver said he was pleased with the outcomes of the survey, saying it highlighted the high level of efficiency the council displayed in terms of roads, rates and rubbish collection.

He said the fact roads and crime prevention were the top priorities for ratepayers did not mean the council was handling them badly, just that they were important to residents.

“I can understand where they are coming from in terms of law and order, with dysfunctional adolescents, which I must say are not typical,” Cr Silver said.

“Law and order is clearly a role of the State Government, but if our community is concerned about it, it is up to the council to step in.”

Cr Silver council staff were preparing a report on the issues, including the possibility of getting closed-circuit television (CCTV) in Ballina.

Garbage collection topped the satisfaction list of the 37 services and facilities, followed by beaches and foreshores, water supply, libraries, recycling, and the Ballina-Byron Gateway Airport.

At the bottom of the satisfaction list was affordable housing, preceded immediately by youth services, crime prevention and law and order initiatives, roads, public toilets and parking.

Below the Local Government Association benchmark for specific criterion were roads and youth services, while above the benchmark were communication with the community, garbage services, libraries, services for older people, the way contact with council is handled and recycling.

Residents read all about it

According to the survey, reading The Northern Star and the Ballina Shire Advocate are two of the most popular ways residents keep informed about the council's news and activities.

  • The Ballina Shire Advocate: 86%
  • Local TV: 69%
  • Leaflets and newsletters in the mail: 66%
  • The Northern Star: 63%
  • Radio: 55%
  • The Northern Rivers Echo: 52%

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