Welcome to happy town: 94% say they like living in Edinburgh

Views of Edinburgh taken from Calton Hill. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor.
Views of Edinburgh taken from Calton Hill. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor.
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NINETY-FOUR per cent of residents say they are happy with Edinburgh as a place to live - one of the highest scores recorded anywhere in the UK.

The city council’s annual Edinburgh People Survey also found 89 per cent of people were satisfied with their own neighbourhood.

People on Princes Street out in the rain with Edinburgh judged to be the happiest city. Pictured Mums Kate Cutts and Natasha Robertson enjoy a chat heading home after swimming class. Credit Steven Scott Taylor.

People on Princes Street out in the rain with Edinburgh judged to be the happiest city. Pictured Mums Kate Cutts and Natasha Robertson enjoy a chat heading home after swimming class. Credit Steven Scott Taylor.

Residents said they felt secure in their communities – around three quarters did not believe there were problems with vandalism, anti-social behaviour or alcohol-related disorder and 85 per cent felt safe after dark

But the responses weren’t universally positive, with satisfaction on street cleaning at a record low and concerns raised over bin collections and dog fouling.

Feedback showed an increased perception of diversity and inclusiveness, with 86 per cent agreeing their neighbourhood is a place where people of different backgrounds get along – up from 81 per cent in 2014 – and 94 per cent agreeing Edinburgh is welcoming and accessible to people of all ages.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the way the council manages the city - down from the peak of 74 per cent in 2013, but signficantly higher than the record low of 35 per cent in 2009 when the disruption from the tram project was at its height.

Edinburgh city council Street cleaners. Picture; Ian Georgeson

Edinburgh city council Street cleaners. Picture; Ian Georgeson

But satisfaction with street cleaning in the Capital was just 58 per cent - back down from 64 per cent in 2015 to the all-time low recorded in 2014 and a dramatic contrast with the peak of 86 per cent satisfaction in 2012.

Refuse collection saw a similar decline in satisfaction from 70 per cent in 2015 back to 2014’s record low level of 62 per cent, compared with a peak of 78 per cent in 2012.

The council says early indications are that the 65-point action plan on rubbish is resulting in improvements, especially on missed bin collections.

Satisfaction with the management of dog fouling improved by three per cent but remained low at 47 per cent.

Dog walkers are an issue for some with waste being a concern for residents.

Dog walkers are an issue for some with waste being a concern for residents.

Council leader Andrew Burns said: “There is a lot to be pleased about in this year’s Edinburgh People Survey results – despite an increasingly challenging financial climate and demand for services we continue to see a high level of satisfaction with life in the Capital.

“What’s also clear is that people feel safe, welcome and included in their local communities, regardless of their background, which certainly adds to the quality of life here.

“While we are encouraged by positive feedback, the survey has allowed us to take stock of the areas the public feel we need to improve too, and this will help inform our priorities moving forward.”

Despite tight budgets, almost half of residents believed the council offered good value for money and there was an increase in the proportion who judged the council displayed sound financial management – 33 per cent, compared with 24 per cent in 2014 and 29 per cent in 2015.

But results from the Scottish Household Survey showed Edinburgh significantly behind the Scottish average when people were asked if they agreed with the statement “My Council does the best it can with the money available”. In Edinburgh, 32 per cent agreed, compared with 41 per cent across Scotland.

The 2016 survey found increased satisfaction with public transport provision - 89 per cent - and sustained levels of high satisfaction with parks and greenspace - 81 per cent.

But satisfaction with road, pavement and footpaths maintenance remained low at 49 per cent and 53 per cent respectively.

The survey found an improving economic situation. From 2011 to 2013, more people said their financial circumstances were getting worse than said they were improving. That picture changed in 2014 and in 2016, 20 per cent reported improving finances, while 11 per cent felt things were getting worse.

The survey found more people felt they had a say on local issues and services - 37 per cent, up by three per cent on 2015.

And 46 per cent said the council kept them informed on spending and saving proposals – an increase of 50 per cent since 2014.

Over two thirds of respondents – 71 per cent - thought the council cared about the environment.

A number of new questions added to the survey highlighted travel habits, revealing the most common form of transport to be bus – 68 per cent had used a bus in the last month. People travelled most frequently by foot - walking on average 5.2 days a week, compared to 4.6 days a week driving.

The council says information gathered is used throughout the year to inform work with services and identify areas for improvement.

Depute council leader Frank Ross said: “Every year the Edinburgh People Survey gives us an insight into what the public feel we are doing right, and the things they want us to do better.

“It’s great to see such high satisfaction this year with services like public transport, parks and our calendar of cultural events, but we also acknowledge the areas that scored lower, and intend to act on these concerns.”

The study, the largest of its kind in the UK and is now in its tenth year, was commissioned by the council and carried out by an independent market research company at a cost of £55,995.

A total of 5226 residents from all wards across the city took part in face-to-face interviews, conducted either in the street or door-to-door, between September and November. The sample was balanced to ensure statistically representative results in terms of age, gender and ethnicity.

Capital’s taste for culture ‘stronger than ever’

The Edinburgh festivals are the main way that most Capital residents engage in cultural activity.

In 2016, 62 per cent said they had been to one or more festivals in the last two years – around the same as the 2015 result.

And four out of five people say the festivals make Edinburgh a better place to live – up slightly from 78 per cent in 2015.

The highest levels of attendance at festivals were among 25- to 44-year-olds (71 per cent).

Attendance was also higher among those working full-time (71 per cent), self-employed residents (72 per cent) and students (70 per cent).

Outside of the festivals, 52 per cent said they had been to the cinema, 36 per cent to the theatre, 33 per cent to live music or a concert, 31 per cent to a museum and 25 per cent to an art gallery.

People on lower incomes, those with health problems and people from more deprived areas were less likely to engage in cultural activity.

The proportion of people who had visited a library in their neighbourhood in the past 12 months has been increasing for several years and rose to 47 per cent in 2016.

A LARGER proportion of people in Edinburgh feel safe in their neighbourhood after dark than elsewhere in the country.

The Capital’s 85 per cent figures is up 10 per cent since 2008 and compares with a national average of 79 per cent.

Asked how common anti-social issues were in their area, 11 per cent said violent crime was common or very common, 21 per cent said the same for vandalism and graffiti, 24 per cent for anti-social behaviour and 48 per cent for fog fouling.

That was little different from 2015, but satisfaction with the council’s handling of these issues was up, with 74 per cent of residents satisfied with management of violent crime issues, 69 per cent for vandalism and graffiti, 66 per cent for anti-social behaviour and 48 per cent for dog fouling.

According to the Scottish Household Survey, all forms of anti-social behaviour are seen as being more common in more deprived areas. In Edinburgh, 61 per cent of those living in the 20 per cent most deprived neighbourhoods said animal nuisance was common, compared to only 31 per cent of those from the rest of the city.