Residents' survey 2020 and 2021

MEL Research carried out two residents’ surveys on behalf of the council. The aim of this work was to gather views on a range of topics such as the environment, residents' communications preferences and one-off issues such as coronavirus (COVID-19) to help the council understand what is important to residents, how we are doing and what we could do differently. The survey results will also collect important feedback on whether local people think the commitments made in the council’s Five Year Plan are starting to be met.

Survey results

In 2020 and 2021 we commissioned two residents’ surveys asking questions such as how safe residents feel in their neighbourhoods, about their use of town centres and how they want the council to communicate with them.

What residents told us

The following are key results from the most recent survey (survey 2) which took place in 2021, with references to corresponding findings from the original survey (survey 1 completed in 2020), only where there were noticeable differences.

Living in the borough

A place to live: 84% of residents were positive about their local area as a place to live.

Community safety: 92% of residents said they felt safe during the day when outside in their local area and 2% felt unsafe. 65% of participants said they felt safe after dark, 20% felt unsafe. These are slightly more positive than for survey 1 when 87% said they felt safe during the day and 60% felt safe after dark.

As a point of reference, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) national score is 93% of residents feeling safe during the day and 78% feeling safe after dark.

Town centres: We asked participants what they expected their main purposes for visiting their local town centre would be once the COVID-19 pandemic ends. The top three choices were shopping (79%), eating and drinking out (63%, and meeting friends (34%) but the picture varied across the borough.

For example, 89% of Redhill residents said shopping would be their main purpose while in Horley 66% of residents expected to do using their town centre for this. In Reigate, 73% and Banstead 72% of residents said they would be eating and drinking out in their town centre compared to just 45% of participants in Redhill.

Key Council services

65% of residents were positive about the way Reigate & Banstead Borough Council runs things. This is slightly higher than survey 1 2020 when 59% said they were satisfied.

75% of participants said they were satisfied with parks, open spaces and playground, 74% satisfied with refuse and recycling, 66% with keeping public spaces clean. The picture was similar in survey 1 except participants had rated cleanliness in public spaces slightly higher at 71%.


59% felt the Council kept them informed about the services and benefits it provides.

The top three preferred methods of communication in survey 2 were: email or e-newsletter (70%), residents’ magazine (54%) and RBBC website (47%). The picture in survey 1 was slightly different with email or e-newsletter still in first place followed by the council’s website and then social media.

Environmental sustainability

47% of participants agreed that the council operates in an environmentally responsible way and 13% disagreed. 40% neither agreed not disagreed, possibly indicating they lacked information about RBBC’s role in this area.


We asked residents about volunteering. 18% had volunteered with an organisation in the previous 12 months, 21% had volunteered informally and 19% had not volunteered at all but were interested in doing so. The remaining 47% were not currently interested in volunteering.

The picture was slightly different in survey 1, which took place shortly after the first wave of the pandemic. We asked participants about their volunteering during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic and their volunteering activities in the months prior to the pandemic. There was slightly more informal volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic (19%) compared to pre-COVID-19 times (14%). Volunteering with an organisation was lower during the pandemic (12%) compared to pre-COVID-19 times (15%).

Using the results

Using these results, Reigate & Banstead is...

  • Using data from survey participants from Horley to inform the delivering change in Horley town centre programme.
  • Learning more about the experiences of residents with particular needs or challenges, such as older people, people of all ages with disabilities, and people who are out of work.
  • Exploring residents’ attitudes to the council’s role in environmental sustainability (with more detailed work following soon on this)
  • planning work to ensure we continue to deliver high quality services
  • looking at the role of volunteering in the borough


What next?

The surveys invited participants to take part in future research if they wished. We plan to get in touch with those who said they might be interested to test ideas and get further feedback on individual council activities to build a more detailed picture of what our residents care about.

A note about methodology

The project was carried out by MEL Research, an independent market research company. We asked them to survey a representative sample of residents. The first survey took place in September and October 2020, followed by the second in February and March 2021.

Responding to COVID-19 restrictions and the impact of the pandemic, MEL Research adapted its survey methods to enable a cross-section of people to take part each time.

Survey 1: 1,102 participants took place in September - October 2020

MEL Research invited a sample of residents by email to complete the survey online. To boost responses from under-represented demographic groups, MEL carried out telephone surveys and the council promoted a publicly available link on its website and through social media.

Survey 2: 1,915 participants took place in February - March 2021

For survey 2, MEL Research approached a fresh sample of residents. The company sent a letter to a sample of addresses in the borough asking residents to take part in an online survey, with the option to request a paper or phone survey for those not wanting to go online. To boost the number of younger participants, RBBC sent a weblink to the survey to adult residents under 35 who had previously signed up for a My Reigate & Banstead account. Finally, a publicly available online link was promoted by the council’s website and social media accounts.

Your privacy

Any data collected by MEL Research will be used for research purposes only. MEL Research abides by the Market Research Society Code of Conduct at all times and GDPR. You can find out more information about MEL Research and what they do with the information they collect in their privacy notice. If you took part in the survey and have any questions or concerns about the research, please call the free MEL helpline on 0800 073 0348.