OpinioN8

Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information

I enjoyed this story of an unintended consequence. Croydon council has gone to a lot of trouble to provide a wonderfully graphic mechanism to enable its polltaxpayers to express an opinion. A special interest group has used the opportunity to make a very specific request. Croydon has replied (I paraphrase) 'someone has expressed an opinion and we are going to ignore it'. In terms of modern political consultations this seems quite typical. A flawed process gathering masses of data, most of which is destined to be ignored.

Haringey has gone to very little trouble to provide a similar, but less graphically wonderful, mechanism which you can get to via this and this. Probably, a flawed process gathering masses of data, most of which is destined to be ignored.

I have so far filled this survey in twice - the first time I made a genuine attempt but struggled with the instructions and got it wrong. The second time I was wondering if I was allowed to fill it in twice and what nonsense I could provide to "help councillors as they map out Haringey’s budget for the coming months and years".
No doubt an internet whizz could understand the mechanism by which the survey works and fill it in automatically as many times as may be. Internet users do have a mischievous streak, consider the staff in Croydon, the Rage against the Machine campaign and all those Google bombs, e.g.  George W Bush/miserable failure . Surely Haringey and Croydon (and no doubt countless other councils) should guard against this.

Haringey has a consultation charter . It states "Our methods of consultation will be robust and appropriate. " perhaps robust and appropriate actually means flaky and unvalidated. At least Croydon had a check to make sure you don't change the overall budget by more than 5%. In Haringey's survey you can set everything to zero.

The charter also states "We will communicate clearly about the purpose of the consultation, who is being consulted, the way we are consulting and when decision will be taken on proposals." Not the slightest hint of any undertaking actually to take any notice of what anyone says. And communicating clearly includes the nakedly political aside from Claire Kober "While we oppose the level and speed of cuts . . " surely not an appropriate use for an expensive public information vehicle funded by the taxpayer.

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