Surprises ahead as council measures satisfaction

SCIENTIFIC principles are to be used to find out if people in Leamington, Warwick and Kenilworth are happy with the way their council tax is spent.

But although Warwick District Council has said it will listen to a focus group chosen to represent its residents, its leader will not guarantee to act on every one of their recommendations.

The district council, responsible for refuse collection, car parks, council housing, leisure centres and parks, has chosen Simalto - short for simultaneous multi-attribute level trade-off - to gauge public satisfaction.

The firm will select 250 residents from all age groups, areas and backgrounds to reflect the makeup of the area and set priorities.

Council leader Cllr Michael Doody said: “As the leader of this council I want to know what our residents want their money spent on and what they don’t.

“We may have some very big surprises.”

Cllr Doody said the group was a larger sample than the current citizens panel and more scientific and representative than ‘tick box’ paper surveys.

The authority has already pledged to freeze its share of council tax next year, and Cllr Doody stressed the survey was not an exercise to justify raising or cutting this.

Services such as the Spa Centre, leisure centres and CCTV all run at a loss, but Cllr Doody said they should be defended even if people felt closing them would be cheaper.

He promised to publish all results, and pledged to give full explanations when it went against the survey’s recommendations.

He said: “Our residents want these things and that’s what is expected of a council in these times. Some might not agree and they have the opportunity to tell us. Everything that’s put in will be considered.”