PUBLIC trust in Wirral Council has 'gone down significantly' over the past two years, new figures have revealed.

According to the Residents’ Survey 2017 – research done by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the local authority – the percentage of people saying they trust the council has dropped from 53% to 45%.

The trend of increasing dissatisfaction, which also saw drops in the percentage of people happy with the way the council runs things and those who say the council acts on residents’ concerns, is reflected nationally, although Wirral’s drop is steeper.

Results of the survey are being released this week, and Kevin MacCallum, Wirral Council’s head of communications, said: “Most public services are seeing falls in satisfaction levels from residents at the moment.

“The analysis by our research company suggests this is due to a range of factors across the whole country, including the ongoing impact of austerity and uncertainty around Brexit negotiations. In fact, a recent ‘State of the Nation’ poll showed seven in ten people believe public services will not be able to help them in the future.”

To ensure a fair comparison, the figures set Wirral against two anonymous “nearest neighbour” councils, one surveyed in 2015 and the other in 2017.

The survey said: “Although Wirral’s drop in key measures follow the national trend, it should be noted that across the board performance indicators are significantly lower compared to its peers.”

With the Wirral figures relating to the years 2017 and 2015, they revealed that those who said they trusted the council dropped from 53% to 45%. The comparable council figure for 2015 was 50%, but the 2017 council was not asked.

The percentages of those satisfied with the way Wirral runs things also dropped from 54% to 48% in the same period, while the comparable council figures actually rose over the two-year period, going from 53% to 57%.

Those who said Wirral council acted on the concerns of residents dropped from 47% to 42%, while the comparable figures dropped from 50% to 45%.

Those in Wirral satisfied with their local area as a place to live dropped from 78% to 74%, with the comparable figures dropping from 79% to 77%.

However Wirral did fare better than the comparable councils in the percentage of those who said the local authority keeps residents informed about services and benefits.

The Merseyside council’s figure for this dropped from 42% to 40%, far less steep than the comparable councils’ 65% figure in 2015 to 51% in 2017.

The survey was designed to gauge aspects like residents’ views on Wirral as a place to live, levels of community involvement and satisfaction with the council.

Likening the trends in Wirral to those across the country, the survey said: “Key performance indicators in Wirral have significantly decreased since 2015, representing a fall in overall resident satisfaction.

“However, it appears that this is rooted in a national trend, whereby several countrywide studies reveal a downward trend in public satisfaction and optimism.”

Mr MacCallum said it was “absolutely clear” from local and national research that people across the country are worried about public services.

He added: “It’s also clear what residents’ priorities are: improving the local environment, protecting the vulnerable and supporting job creation.

“The council leadership have been clear that they must be our priorities too, and that is why the council is investing more than £15m on road, highway and street lighting improvements, £20m on improving children’s services and why it has created Wirral Growth Company, which will create 3,000 jobs for local people.”

Speaking about the survey, Cllr Phil Gilchrist, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Wirral council, said: “The survey confirms what people tell us, with street cleanliness and highway repairs high up as their priorities.

“The council, in general, is not well regarded or trusted. Every day council staff and contractors, whether in the care sector or highway repairs, are out and about serving the community, often under great pressure.”

He said their work was “overshadowed” by issues annoying residents, like the council-run newsletter the Wirral View.

He added: “The survey reveals how little that publication is referred to.”

Responding to Cllr Gilchrist’s comments, a Labour source said: “Just like when he was in coalition with the Tories and now seeks to distance himself from their harsh and uncaring policies, Cllr Gilchrist is showing once again that he wants it both ways.

“He says Wirral View ‘annoys residents’ and in the next breath tries to suggest no one is aware of it.

“This inability to even keep his own distortion of the facts straight shows why on May 3 voters chose Labour to continue to run Wirral council and deliver the vital front-line services residents rely on despite relentless Tory funding cuts.”