How we did it
We undertake a bi-annual user satisfaction questionnaire of Connaught Gardens Sidmouth. On several occasions officers went out into Connaught Gardens and asked a total of 100 people using the gardens to answer 23 set questions, the questionnaire was completed by the officers like a face to face interview.
Summary of the results
• All of the respondents were satisfied with Connaught Gardens overall.
• Satisfaction with the cleanliness of the Connaught Gardens remains high with 100% of respondents saying that the cleanliness is either very or fairly good.
• Similarly most users of the park felt the floral displays are of a high standard with 94% of respondents saying they were very good.
• Similar to previous years the area most people felt needed improvement was the signage and interpretation with a couple of people saying they didn’t know the gardens were there they just stumbled upon them. Although 96% still agreed this was either fairly or very good.
• The standard of Connaught Garden’s benches and seating has remained high with 98% agreeing that seating is good.
• Out of the 13 members of public who said they’d spoken to a member of the gardening team all agreed they were helpful, knowledgeable, courteous and polite.
• A high percentage of the respondents commented on the flower displays and peaceful tranquillity of the gardens themselves.
• Out of the respondents who were not local to Sidmouth, 56% felt the gardens in Sidmouth were better than those where they lived and 21% felt Connaught Gardens was worse.
• Out of the local respondents 91% felt the gardens had got better over the last three years, when asked why several said the flowers were better.
• Overall many of the comments received were very positive, commenting on the high standards and upkeep of the gardens over the years.
What we are doing about what you told us
The vast majority of the results were very positive, but there were some concerns shared by a few people. These are listed below, with our answers to the concerns.
You said: Could there be more signs for the gardens, we didn’t know they were here.
Our response: We wouldn’t know where to put any extra signs. There is already signage on the seafront to the east, in the car park opposite to the north and to the west on Peak Hill. There is a large sign at the entrance to the gardens. We also put leaflets about the gardens in the Tourist Information Centre in Sidmouth.
It may be that people are not seeing the signs as they aren’t looking for them. It’s good to know that without seeing the signs people are still ending up at the gardens as they walk in the town.
You said: You say Connaught Gardens has a Green Flag, I don’t know what that means. You need to tell people.
Our response: The Green Flag is a national award so it’s up to them to publicise it nationally. We have told them they need to publicise the award more and explain what it means. When we receive a Green Flag we publicise it and what it means in the local media and on the council’s website, Twitter and Facebook. However, this information may well not be seen by visitors to East Devon.
You said: The viewing point wall needs fixing
Our response: We are waiting for English Heritage to get back to us with their comments on fixing the wall. We cannot do anything until we get their input.
You said: It’s difficult to access for wheelchairs and disabled people There is a disabled route into and around the gardens, marked by the blue disabled signs.
Our response: There is one small area of the gardens that has steps at all entrances. However, there is wheelchair access to all the entrances so wheelchair users can still look at the area. All the structures within the gardens are listed with English Heritage so it would be very difficult to change the steps to ramps.
You said: The wildflowers are out of place.
Our response: Wildflowers are now included as they promote biodiversity by attracting pollinating insects which benefit all the plants in the gardens and surrounding area. They have been a popular addition with the majority of visitors although we appreciate they don’t necessarily fit into everyone’s idea of a formal gardens.