True Democracy?

Merge – Yes // Merge – No // ADMIN – The two comments below were taken from the Echo today (17 November 2016). They do raise issues. Your thoughts? From xshuttlex:
For goodness sake. The survey was a total farce. Maybe the reason so few people bothered replying is simply because the public have no faith in Councillors actually listening. You were basically told, ‘This is going to happen, so if you don’t like it, tough.’ There wasn’t even an option to keep things as they are. It was full of doom and gloom warnings if we didn’t join up, but the public are sick and tired of such warnings, most of which haven’t come true. This is nothing but a power trip for certain Councillors who want to have even more power. The plans to rearrange the wards will mean that those wards that don’t vote Conservative now, will be altered so that non Conservative voters will be outnumbered. The new Council will be a sea of blue, so no opposition whatsoever. They could still make deals with different councils (thus saving money) but they prefer to go the bigger is better route. Christchurch residents are really going to get turned over when this goes through. There are already plans being looked at that will see Council estates being built on green land, with the public having no say whatsoever. Council taxes will go up, services will go down … and residents won’t have a say in it. Don’t believe a word Nottage says, as the bloke wouldn’t recognise what the voters want if it hit him on the head. Like Beesley, Nottage listens to the voices in his head, nothing else.
From Job’s Worth
The survey was laid out in such a way, as to the council’s getting the reply they wanted. There was little room for manoeuvre in the choice of answers, and each question was carefully worded to manipulate the reply. 16,000 people does NOT speak for the majority. It would not work in a general election that only 16,000 votes would give that person the top job, so why does it work in any other way? It can’t even be called a genuine sample of the local population, when they cherry-pick who will supply the answers. It’s always been a done deal as far as I am concerned, despite their protests to the contrary …

  Link to the original article: Click the picture Merge – Yes /// Merge – No /// Transport

One thought on “True Democracy?”

  1. Thank you for opening up the debate and including some of my comments on the discussion page. My thoughts on this echo article are that I would rather read the full article, as is available on ( , especially the rather detailed and, in my opinion, very credible, explanation of the statistical validity, obviously written by someone who knows what they are taking about. Here is the whole article:

    Thousands of residents from across Dorset have taken part in a wide-ranging consultation on proposals for the future of local government in the county.

    A household survey was undertaken, based on a representative sample of the Dorset population. Questionnaires were sent to 20,000 addresses selected at random from all addresses in each of Dorset’s local authority areas. 4,258 residents responded. The response numbers by each council area are as follows:

    Council Area Number
    Poole 781
    Bournemouth 670
    East Dorset 554
    West Dorset 508
    Christchurch 459
    Purbeck 453
    North Dorset 439
    Weymouth and Portland 391
    Unknown 3
    Total: 4,258

    The household survey responses will be statistically weighted to take account of the size of the population in each local authority area and different response rates for different types of households. This ensures that the household survey results are statistically reliable and representative of the whole population in each area.

    The open consultation questionnaire gave all Dorset residents and other stakeholders the chance to have their say; and a total of 12,536 responses were received.

    Council Area Number
    Poole 2,625
    Bournemouth 2,048
    East Dorset 1,433
    West Dorset 1,414
    Christchurch 1,409
    Weymouth and Portland 694
    Purbeck 656
    North Dorset 632
    Outside of Dorset 61
    Unknown/not stated 1,564
    Total 12,536

    Sixteen facilitated workshops were also undertaken throughout the consultation period, with residents, town and parish councils, businesses and the voluntary sector. In addition, further separate responses and written representations were received from hundreds of stakeholders including businesses, voluntary sector groups, public sector partners, MPs, service user groups, town and parish councils, residents’ groups and other organisations.

    Andrew Flockhart, Chief Executive of Poole Borough Council, said on behalf of all councils:

    “I am delighted that so many thousands of residents took the time to read the detailed information provided, consider their response and tell us what they think about the proposals to replace Dorset’s nine existing councils with two new unitary authorities.”

    He continued, “Opinion Research Services (ORS) will now analyse the data, present the findings and produce a full and detailed report, which will be available online at on 5 December, along with the detailed Case for Change that is being prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.”

    The ORS report will include overall results for the whole of Dorset, compare findings from the household survey and open consultation questionnaire, feature breakdowns of results from each council area and present the feedback received from stakeholders via all the different consultation activities.

    PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ case for change will assess each option for its ability to meet the government’s ‘statutory tests’ of:
    ◦improving value for money and efficiency
    ◦delivering significant cost savings, and show that the cost of change can be recovered over a fixed period
    ◦improving services for local residents
    ◦providing stronger and more accountable leadership
    ◦being sustainable in the medium–long term.

    Notes about the household survey

    Where a population is large, as in the case of Dorset (around 750,000 residents), it is impractical to obtain the views of all residents. In these circumstances it is normal to carry out a survey to estimate what the result would be if the views of the entire population had been asked.

    Where a survey is based on a sample that has been selected at random and there is a chance that anyone in the population could be chosen to take part, survey estimates can be certified as statistically accurate to within a specific tolerance.

    For example, we can be 95% confident that views based on responses from a random sample of 384 residents would reflect the views of the entire population to within ±5 percentage points. On this basis, 19 times in 20 the survey estimate will be no more than 5 percentage points away from the result had the question been asked of everyone in the population.

    The household survey used a stratified random sampling approach and all addresses in each local authority area had an equal chance of selection. The sample was designed to provide sufficient responses for analysis of views in each of the local authority areas.

    The overall sample of 4,258 responses will provide survey estimates that will be accurate to around ±2 percentage points for the entire Dorset population. The survey estimates are sufficiently accurate to identify with statistical confidence the option with most support in each local authority area. The accuracy of each estimate depends on the split in opinion for each question, the number of responses received and the extent of statistical weighting needed to compensate for different response rates for different types of households.

    The specific accuracy of survey estimates for key questions will be reported in the ORS report of findings.

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