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If This is Valid, I'll Eat My Hat!

December 1, 2012 1:13 PM

julie morris

Epsom & Ewell's Lib Dem councillors say the Residents Association has wasted thousands of pounds on a Residents Survey just to try and prop up satisfaction with the way they run the council.

The survey is carried out every two years. However, in 2012 some 82% of the data has been drawn from the over 45s and just 18% from the under 45s. To be valid statistically, the split should have been more like 54% from the over 45s and 46% from the under 45s, according to the most recent census data available.

The Lib Dems say that the council's Citizens Panel - which it uses for consultations and surveys of this kind - is so unrepresentative of the actual demographics of the borough that it is worthless as a consultation medium. The council have recently confirmed that the Citizens Panel is "being refreshed".

Cllr Julie Morris, leader of the Lib Dem group says "one of the more bizarre conclusions reached is that the 18-24 age group is the best at home composting, a conclusion drawn from a mere 8 respondents to the survey who fell into that age group If this is valid, I'll eat my hat. Numbers that low should not be treated as statistically significant." She believes that the bias is so severe that the survey should be scrapped.

The document is available on the council's website but isn't easy to find and did not receive any publicity after Cllr Morris suggested to council officers that the results were utterly meaningless. Amonst those results which appeared genuine, dog mess came top of the list for the first time as the most common nuisance/anti-social activity and Stoneleigh Broadway featured as an area with problems needing attention.

Cllr Morris says "Conducting surveys based heavily on an age range known to be more happy with council services than younger people, is obviously a very good way of making sure satisfaction contiinues to seem high". She cites other conclusions drawn which are not quite as they appear : A half of respondents feel not very involved in council decision-making was the stated conclusion, but statistically 82% of respondents to the survey did not feel involved and 12% did (with 6% answering that they didn't have a view). The survey also concludes that Town Ward respondents suffered the least crime. "This is clearly a misleading statement since Town is known to be a Surrey 'hot spot' for crime" added Cllr Morris "and the more one looks into the fine detail of this document, the more strange some of the conclusions become. Frankly, my own conclusion is that most of it is utter rubbish."