THERE has been a marked rise in the number of Borders residents who feel safe while walking alone after dark.
That was one of the findings of the 2010 Scottish Borders Household Survey, which came before local councillors recently for approval as information to be used to help inform the work of the council in future years.
The survey saw 6,000 residents contacted, of whom 2,600 responded, giving a reponse rate of 43 per cent.
Councillors heard this was a good level of response and statistically significant.
An impressive 97 per cent of respondents said they feel very or fairly safe while alone in their home and 96 per cent feel very or fairly safe while walking alone in their local area during the day.
Compared with that, only 70 per cent said they felt safe walking alone in their local area after dark.
However, compared with previous years, that is a rise of 5 per cent on 2009, up 7 per cent on 2008 and 3 per cent on 2007 levels.
Asked about how their local areas could be made safer, 64 per cent said they would like to see more visible policing.
When it came to the level of service from the police, 47 per cent felt officers were doing a good or very good job, 31 per cent a fair job and 10 per cent a poor or very poor job.
The top five neighbourhood problems were dangerous driving and speeding, parking, litter, drunk or rowdy behaviour in public places, and people using or dealing in drugs.
Overall, nine in 10 respondents (90 per cent) said they were satisified with their neighbourhood as a place to live, compared with 6 per cent who were dissatisfied. Compared with previous years, satisfaction levels have remained constant.
However, the proportion of respondents stating they are very satisified has continued to rise, going up from 46 per cent in 2007 to 51 per cent a year later, 52 per cent in 2009 and 54 per cent by last year.
Analysis by area reveals that overall satisfaction with the neighbourhood ranges from 88 per cent in Teviot to 93 per cent in Tweeddale.
The majority of residents feel their neighbourhood has stayed the same over the last three years, while just under a fifth (18 per cent) feel it has got worse and 9 per cent says it has got better.
Compared to previous years, the proportion of respondents stating their neighbourhood has got better is at its highest level yet, at 9 per cent, compared to 8 per cent in 2009 and 2008 and 7 per cent in 2007.
The number of respondents stating their neighbourhood has got worse fell from 23 per cent in 2007 to 22 per cent in 2008 to 18 per cent in 2009 and 2010.
The most important priorities for respondents were making the Borders a safer place to live, work and visit; supporting local retailers and businesses, and freezing council tax.
A total of 64 per cent of respondents stated that local media is the main method they use to find out about the Scottish Borders Council services, plans and decisions. This is followed by information provided by the council (12 per cent), word of mouth (9 per cent) and the council website or the internet (9 per cent).
Of those surveyed, 55 per cent have contacted the council in the last 12 months, a figure which has remained constant since 2006, with younger people more likely to contact the council.
There are low levels of disssatisfcation over the service they received. Most satisfactory were the customer care elements of contact, for example helpfulness and competence of staff.
Satisfaction levels fell, however, when it came to the final outcome. But satisfaction levels appeared to have increased marginally from 2009 to 2010 in terms of finding the right person to deal with; length of time taken to deal with an enquiry and regarding the competencyeWhen it came to local services, respondents reported very high levels of satisfaction with waste collection, recycling and waste and litter services.
Bus services saw 43 per cent of respondents using them, with those over 60 the most likely passengers.
Satisfaction is reasonably high with 81 per cent stating they were satisfied, but that drops to 69 per cent when it came to bus information.
The majority of respondents were satisifed with the maintenance of street lighting and the condition of the main trunk roads (65 per cent). However, when it came to the condition of rural roads, this fell to 41 per cent. The least satisifactory element was the speed of repair to damaged roads (33 per cent).
When it came to levels of satisfaction with the winter roads service, the most satisfactory aspects related to proportion of roads treated (60 per cent satisifed), effectiveness of road snow clearance (59 per cent) and speed of road ice and snow clearance (57 per cent).
However, least satisfactory were salt bins with only 24 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively, satisfied with the number and refilling of bins.
Tweeddale residents were the least satisfied with winter service, while Cheviot residents the most satisifed.
Travelling by car to work is still the main form of transport with seven in 10 respondents saying they drive to work – up 17 per cent since 2009. Those using public transport to travel to work fell from 11 per cent in 2009 to 8 per cent last year.
A majority of respondents were satisifed with grass cutting in parks, open spaces and sports areas (80 per cent), galleries and libraries (64 per cent) and arts, cultural activities/events and festivals (64 per cent).
Less than half, however, were satisified with other sports and leisure facilities (48 per cent) – however, 41 per cent said they did not use these types of facilities.
Over the previous 12 months, satisfaction levels in terms of libraries and galleries had dropped by 5 per cent, with arts and cultural activities down 3 per cent.