Residents’ Panel survey reveals broad satisfaction with Oxford and council’s work


Residents of Oxford are broadly satisfied with their city and the work of the City Council – a recent survey conducted by Oxford City Council has found.

However, the level of satisfaction varies across different areas of the city, revealing a city of two halves.

New findings from the Oxford Residents’ Panel survey have found that while 66% of Oxford residents are satisfied with Oxford and 52% are satisfied with the work of Oxford City Council – this satisfaction is not consistent throughout the whole city.

In particular, there are noticeable differences when comparing different areas of Oxford. For example, residents living in North, North East, Cowley, and East are more satisfied with their local area as a place to live, compared with residents in Central South and West, and South East who are less satisfied with their local area.

Despite the recovery in city centre footfall and continued rapid economic growth, only about a third of Oxford residents are optimistic about the economy (36%), whereas over a half (52%) are pessimistic and think it is not doing well. It should be noted that the same percentage (52%) of households reported they had been affected by the current economic climate.

About the survey

The Oxford Residents’ Panel is a representative sample of citizens selected independently to assess residents’ perceptions of their local area, Council services, community safety, the local economy, as well as health and wellbeing.

The latest survey, which ran from 21 July to 25 Sept 2023, surveyed 509 Oxford residents. It was carried out by the independent polling company, Beehive, which oversees both the administration of the Residents Panel and analyses the survey results. The results will be used to help develop council services in the future.

The survey categories areas of Oxford in the following way:

  • North: Wolvercote, Cutteslowe and Sunnymead, Summertown, Walton Manor.
  • North East: Marston, Headington Hill and Northway, Headington, Barton and Sandhills, Quarry and Risinghurst, Churchill.
  • East: Donnington, St Clements, St Mary’s.
  • Central South and West: Osney and St Thomas, Carfax and Jericho, Holywell, Hinksey Park.
  • Cowley: Temple Cowley, Cowley, Lye Valley.
  • South East: Blackbird Leys, Littlemore, Northfield Brook, Rose Hill and Iffley.

Headline findings

Overall headline findings of the survey are as follows:

  • 66% of the residents are satisfied with their local area as a place to live, with just 21% dissatisfied. However, residents living in the North and East areas are more likely to be satisfied with their local area, whereas residents living in Central South & West and South East are less likely to be satisfied. 
  • Residents felt that the most important things which make somewhere a good place to live are affordable, decent housing (43%), public transport (39%), parks and open spaces (36%), crime levels (31%), and walking and cycling infrastructure (31%) 
  • 52% of residents are satisfied with the way the council runs things. However, again, differences are seen by area, with residents in East and Central South & West being more satisfied, and those living in the North East and South East less satisfied.
  • When asked about services the council provides, satisfaction was highest for museums (85%) and parks & open spaces (85%). 

When asked about specific areas of the council’s work, the Residents’ Panel had the following views on the council’s key priorities:

Making Oxford’s economy fairer

  • 36% of residents are optimistic about Oxford’s economy, whereas 52% are pessimistic and believe it is struggling. 
  • 52% of residents have been affected by the current economic climate, with 30% feeling that the economic climate has affected their ability to buy a home or move, 23% not being able to afford to go on holiday, and 20% experiencing difficulties paying energy and fuel bills. 
Affordable, decent housing, like these in Barton Park, was the most important thing for residents.
Affordable, decent housing was the most important thing for residents. Image: Barton Park housing development in Headington, Oxford

Tackling the housing crisis

  • Affordable, decent housing was the most important thing for residents in making somewhere a good place to live. 43% of residents highlighted that affordable housing is needed to make a place somewhere good to live.
  • The areas where residents have the highest satisfaction with the council’s efforts to address the housing crisis were as follows: regulation of the private rented sector through licensing schemes (31%), providing support and housing for refugees (23%), and providing housing and support for rough sleepers (18%).
  • The areas of greatest dissatisfaction include the delivery of adequate infrastructure to support new homes (53%), preventing homelessness (47%), and constructing adequate housing (43%).

Pursue a zero carbon Oxford

  • Enabling a zero carbon public transport, retrofitting homes, and tree planting were seen as the top priorities when addressing the climate emergency. 
  • While the County Council is the highways authority, rather than Oxford City Council, residents were also asked about their travel experience. Residents feel that transport has gotten worse over the past year, with the top ‘worse’ responses being related to ‘congestion when travelling into and within the city’ (74%) and ‘journey times into and within the city by car’ (62%). 
  • 48% of residents cycle once a week, with residents in the North and East most likely to cycle at least once a week. Walking is the most common form of physical exercise, with 91% walking at least once a week.

Creating a thriving community

  • 76% of Oxford residents agree that their local area is a place where people from different ethnicities and nationalities get on well. This is the same for the ‘all white’ and ‘ethnic minority’ groups. However, residents in the North East and South East are significantly less likely to agree that this is the case.
  • 72% of residents are satisfied that parks are kept clear of litter, 54% are satisfied that residential streets are kept clean of litter, and 59% think that the city centre is kept clear of litter.
  • Most Oxford residents feel safe during the day in their local area (90%) and the city centre (89%). Residents feel less safe at night, although a majority feel safe: 67% feel safe in their local area at night, and 61% feel safe in the city centre after dark.

Councillor Nigel Chapman, Cabinet Member for Citizen Focused Services and Council Companies said: “Our residents’ panel survey shows that overall, Oxford’s residents are satisfied with Oxford as a place to live and our work as the council.

“However, we can clearly see that Oxford remains a city of two halves, with residents reporting key differences in experiences across the city. These latest survey results allow us to understand these differences and how we can continue to work to address them in the future.

“The council’s policies to build more genuinely affordable housing (council housing and shared ownership housing), help local residents impacted by the Cost of Living and to do more to tackle climate change are in line with residents’ responses. 

“It is not surprising that residents who are most impacted by the cost of living are most pessimistic about the city’s economy. However, the city’s economy is doing remarkably well, particularly in comparison with other parts of the county, region and country.”

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