OurTown Questionnaire Results
During March 2005 residents in Barnstaple were able to “have their say” during the Barnstaple Our Town consultation. The following is a summary of their comments and suggestions.
You can also download a comprehensive analysis of these findings (33KB - pdf help), including detailed comments.
- Traffic, transport and congestion
- The environment
- Young people
- Town centre/shops
- Citizenship, Democracy and Community
- Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour
Most comments were for a better traffic system reinforcing its status as the number one priority.
Suggestions to achieve this include:
- Improve public transport frequency, reliability and accessibility
- A reduction of traffic in the centre of town and pedestrianisation
- Improve parking/Reduce or make free parking charges (especially for disabled)
- Complete the bridge
- Establish efficient Park & Ride schemes on the outskirts of the town. (e.g. Whiddon Valley area for South Molton & M5 traffic, Roundswell for Bideford, Torrington traffic & Pottington for Braunton, Ilfracombe).
- Improvements for elderly and disabled access and separate roads/lanes/paths for wheelchairs
Most people responding want a cleaner environment. They have concerns about litter, graffiti, dog mess and chewing gum and there were lots of comments about Greensweep.
Interestingly, this section did not appear in the top four priorities numerically but is a high priority in the written comments. Many comments were concerned with improving parks and open spaces and linking this to improvements to community life. A substantial number saw the riverfront as a neglected resource – even more if you link this to the number who commented that the civic centre is an eyesore.
Overwhelmingly, comments related to improving facilities – especially to give children and young people something to do and to get them off the streets. A mixed view emerged about young people – some valuing them and wanting to cherish them and give them much more support, but others who were quite fearful of them or see them as a nuisance (see the community safety comments).
Many of the comments expressed the wish to see more varied and high quality shops in Barnstaple. Many contradictory views were evident between those who want to see more fast food outlets (KFC especially popular amongst the young) and those who want more choice for healthy eating options and see fast food outlets as a source of litter and loutish behaviour. This section also links to culture and leisure use of the town (see environment and leisure sections). Shopping is clearly a majority leisure pursuit!
Added together, this section did have a lot of comments and reinforced the view that we do not have high quality, affordable, accessible and modern facilities – sports and leisure centre and decent swimming pool being the most numerously requested improvements but also cinema and arts facilities. The interest in developing open spaces around the town was also emphasised - not just in its centre – there were links to projects like Forches regeneration and Yeo Community Centre.
Many want to see a change to a better quality café and restaurant culture – perhaps linked to comments about open space and town centre developments. The interest in a wider night time experience needs to be seen in the context of the fear of going into town at night (see community safety section).
There is a need to improve the way councils and councillors work and engage with the public. Many want to be involved and consulted and wanted to see a great deal more respect shown to one another. Link this to the wish for more community space and the value attached to people and community spirit in the statistical results of the consultation and this reveals a positive mood for improving the sense of community. There were also a significant number of comments relating to care of older and disabled people.
We received very few comments on this topic, but many of the comments made on the topic of the economy (see below) could link to skills.
Two points that were made were the need for:
- Better services for vocational evening and weekend classes so working people can gain new skills
- A University for North Devon
Most people said that more high profile policing was needed. The number of comments, when added to the overall statistical summary, reinforces the importance of this subject, despite the reality – which is that North Devon is one of the safest areas in the country. Despite this fact lots of people expressed a fear of being a victim of crime, especially violence. Interestingly, many young people also highlighted this as a major concern - comments about rival groups and bullying reflecting an underlying worry about their safety.
It is well known that Barnstaple is an area of low pay and where many people are struggling financially but this did not emerge in the comments people made – perhaps too personal for such a survey.
Significant numbers are worried about how to get into the housing market – especially first time buyers. Also a concern about homelessness – both a concern for homeless people and a worry about seeing beggars and homeless people on the street – this connects to the fear of crime.
The number of comments does not reflect the statistical priority given to this topic (fourth overall) and people may have felt that, having made the point, they wanted to concentrate on other areas of improvement in their comments.
People expressed an interesting sense of wanting to maintain the feel of the town as small and intimate whilst also benefiting from its growing range of opportunities.
Barely mentioned – possibly, services such as schools and health care are either not uppermost in people’s minds (perhaps due to high satisfaction levels) or they used the opportunity of the survey to comment on more day to day issues.