“Do you like where you live? What would you change to make it better?”
“This survey is being undertaken on behalf of all the agencies that work in the area and the Council’s Inner East Area Committee”, and the sad thing is that they couldn’t find in all these “agencies” one single person who could compile a decent questionnaire!!
In fact, the “questionnaire” is SO WRONG that it’s hard to tell how to make it better..perhaps starting all over again?
First and foremost, it only provides if any, a very small space to add comments and answers to open questions. This is either a huge oversight, or a deliberate and shameful attempt to discourage residents from actually giving their own opinion. But, as I have to remind myself often, we shouldn’t look for conspiracies, if blatant inadequacy might be the answer..
It also often only gives two choices YES/NO with no other possibility such as “Maybe” “unsure”” prefer not to say” etc.
So, let’s forget about the one thing that has improved in the area (Q2) and the one thing (Q2) that hasn’t, and proceed to environmental improvements (Q3).
What is the purpose of this question? Do you think ANYONE actually likes graffiti, litter, vandalism and dog mess? NO. No one likes the above, and yet they are not removed.
As for environmental improvements we would like to see, well, what about cleaning the streets AFTER the bin collections instead of one day BEFORE? (That would have made a fine LCC survey question..)
What about flagstone pavements taken out for maintenance works being returned instead of taken away for good? (I would also like to know where did LCC take them, but I can’t really ask, due to short space for Q5: Let us know of any other you would like to see..I would like to see the flagstones back.)
Or what about better security of boarded up former Council buildings that fall prey to theft and antisocial behaviour on a daily basis in Richmond Hill.
Oh.., let’s go to the next session “Employment, Training, Schools”.
This is a funny one, because there is no mention of employment opportunities, training or schools that one would expect to find under such heading.
Instead there are one and a half pages (out of 6 in total, so much for “neighbourhood” survey) of badly thought of, intrusive personal questions about YOU the respondent.
What is LCC aim to get out of those? These questions have already been answered in some detail at the last census and they will soon be available. How is LCC going to deal with this personal information it gets? Who will be responsible for it?
Plus, if the purpose of them is to ascertain the level of employment, then again, a lot is missing: we know from research that the biggest cause of poverty in our neighbourhoods is not “unemployment” but “underemployment”, ie part time, badly paid shift work. And yet “part time” employment is not even mentioned!!!!
Things to Do and Place to Go
Again, there is no place to write what sort of activities we want etc.(Q15 Q19 Q20). Open ended questions need more space.
But the most ridiculous thing is Q16 and Q17. If I were a shopkeeper/businessman in the area I would be talking to my solicitor right now! We are invited to say which shops we use and the only two choices we’ve got are Post Office and Mini Market.
What about the laundrette? Cafes? The local Charity shop? The local Chip Shop? I am hurt on their behalf for that omission..Has the person who compiled the questionnaire NEVER been in the area?
Questions 21 22 23 are out of this world. Obviously part of some “inspirational” “happiness agenda” but again.. please!! “More leisure activities?” NO. More leisure services, libraries, day centres for the elderly. Oh, wait a minute! We had those, and you closed them down!
Plus none of these things makes people happy. Their absence on the other hand definitely contributes to their unhappiness.
And the fun doesn’t stop here:
Q30 “How would you like to be involved in this?” Only has two options and they are both a hoot!
1. Community ideas day
2. A postal voting card
There is no other option, or space to actually answer the question using your own words (God forbid..)
But NO!! NONE OF THE ABOVE! What about getting together with your neighbours at a community forum? Talking to your councillors in their surgeries? Have access to more public space, more clear information and more open debate?
No more tokenist gimmicks!
Now the serious stuff. Tick your first 3 priorities, among environment, crime and community confidence, health and wellbeing (well, that makes sense since people in our area die younger and get more cancers apparently, based on data discussed at the last Inner East meeting), school attendance (this is the first time schools are actually mentioned in the questionnaire- it shows how much LCC values education, or how much they think WE value it), jobs/training or other.
How about dealing with the effects of a large transient population, due to unregulated flat conversions and equally unregulated emergency accommodation contracts?
How about filling the gaps form Council Services deserting the area ( library, day centre, old people’s home, hostel, sport’s centre, job shop?).
How about dealing with aggressive new developments blocking public rights of way, purchasing listed buildings and letting them rot, getting away with not paying s.106 money and creating gated communities within ours, further deepening the fragmentation and decay in places where there is very little left?
I will not comment on particular questions any further, it’s a futile task.
But I can’t help thinking of the irony of the whole “Health and Wellbeing” section, especially since the Council has agreed to build a huge incinerator next to our houses.
We don’t needd “activities” in our area! We need infrastructure. We need honest democratic debate. We need a decent living environment.
I would also like to know how much this questionnaire cost and who is responsible for it.
Because, this is a bad product.
And, I, as a council tax payer, would like my money back!