RESIDENTS in rural areas rate Bendigo's council lower than those in town for overall performance, the latest community satisfaction survey results show.
The City of Greater Bendigo should "give consideration" to rural residents, "who appear to be driving negative opinion in a number of areas in 2019", pollsters found.
Local streets and footpaths could also be improved, residents said in an annual phone survey of 400 people, according to a report by independent group JWS research.
Of those randomly contacted, 35 were from rural areas and 365 were from within Bendigo's city limits.
A "sizeable number" of residents suggested consultation and engagement was an area that needed improvement, the report found.
"Communication and transparency to residents on ways in which (the) council is consulting the community on major decisions, could help improve perceptions in this area," the report stated.
Greater Bendigo chief executive Craig Niemann said a genuine effort was being made to reach out to the city's rural communities.
He said those in rural areas who expressed dissatisfaction might perceive that they received fewer services than those provided in central Bendigo.
Mr Niemann said those services in central Bendigo might not be perceived as being connected to the needs of those living in rural parts of the municipality.
He said the city provided as much service as it could to its rural communities, as reflected in its budget.
"We actually spend a lot of money on rural roads," Mr Niemann said.
"It's the things people use every day - roads and footpaths - where they say council could do more."
There was a drop in approval of overall council direction from 57 per cent to 53 per per cent.
That result was the same as the state-wide average and one percentage point above the average for regional centres, council CEO Craig Niemann said.
Overall, the report found most performance measures remained stable or improved slightly between 2018 and 2019.
"This is a positive result for council," the pollsters found.
Mr Niemann thought so, too, and said he was pleased with the results.
The council recorded its greatest increase in customer service, moving five points from 73 to 78.
"Staff across the organisation engage widely with the community, particularly our frontline customer support staff, so it is pleasing to see their hard work and commitment to quality service reflected in the results," Mr Niemann said.
The council also made gains on satisfaction with sealed local roads (from 57 per cent to 60 per cent) and making decisions in the interest of the community (54 per cent to 57 per cent.)
The survey found 59 per cent of those surveyed had contact with the council in the previous 12 months, with residents aged between 35 and 49 years having the most contact, while residents aged 18 to 34 years having the least contact.
Mr Niemann said the survey was just one form of feedback the city took into consideration.
"We don't just rely on the survey for how the community thinks," he said.
He said there would always be areas in which the city could improve, and it intended to do so.
- with Emma D'Agostino
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