This year’s Greater Shepparton City Council community satisfaction results tell an interesting story — they tell a few stories.
But like almost any set of data, they hardly tell the full version of any story.
It would be easy to criticise the stats without context.
Fifty-two out of 100 for overall performance does not sound like a particularly positive result in isolation.
But it marks a three percentage point increase, which councillors have understandably been cautious to praise.
It is ‘‘an improvement’’ and little more, especially with the low base in mind.
It is also difficult to know how representative a sample size of only 400 residents is in a population of 65000.
What the results almost certainly do say is the council needs to pay attention to the maintenance of its local road network.
Forty out of 100, Greater Shepparton’s grade for sealed roads, and a drop of eight index points, leaves plenty to be desired.
The council vowing to pay more attention to the sealed road network alone as a result of this survey is pleasing.
However, the most frustrating element of the results must be to pick them apart in search of specific areas needing improvement and actually getting to the heart of these identified concerns.
Councillors’ criticism of the numbers, arguing they should only be taken with a grain of salt, is also fair to an extent.
Notable perhaps here is Greater Shepparton’s performance being more broadly lower compared with other councils of similar size and all sizes.
Its overall performance result came in five index points below the state average for regional centres and seven lower across all councils, in the same survey.
But there were positives to be found in the results, too.
Improvements were reported across all areas except for the council’s sealed local roads, with overall council direction in particular jumping a significant nine points.
Combine this particular number with telling comments from Mayor Dinny Adem, that ‘‘we also suspected that community confidence in council is still rebuilding following previous periods of disunity and distractions’’, and you begin to get the picture of a council trying to rebrand itself as a united organisation, driven to put the past behind it and hopeful that this improvement is the beginning of a trend upwards.