Owen Temple & Margaret Nealis

Liberal Democrat campaigners for Consett North Learn more

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Lies, damned lies and statistics

by Owen Temple on 5 November, 2010

At the County Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday we were given a run through the County Durham Residents’ survey.

I got Mrs T to look at the methodology because she’s a statistician, and she was pretty complimentary about everything except the report’s tendency to make comparisons between this survey and earlier ones. The reason why they can’t be compared is that they used completely different methods and comparisons are not safe.

In fairness to the Deputy Chief Executive’s report, it does say

direct comparisons are of limited value between the Resident’s Survey and previous, similar, exercises because of methodological differences

and in delivering her report  she did explain “you usually get a better result with face to face surveys” (like the latest one).

Despite that the report goes on to make just those comparisons! Well, I suppose this is politics. How else could you explain the claim that the new survey results

show that since 2008 residents’ ratings of services have improved and satisfaction overall has increased substantially.

Here are ten fairly random results which you may find interesting:

  1. Across the county almost four in five respondents (78%) are satisfied with the way Durham County runs things
  2. The area where the satisfaction level is lowest is the Consett area (Derwent Valley Partnership)
  3. The highest levels of satisfaction with services are with Refuse collection (92%), primary education (91%) and street lighting (90%)
  4. The lowest level of satisfaction with services is with repairs of roads and pavements (47%)
  5. 39% of residents agree that they can influence decisions but 45% disagree
  6. 59% of residents feel that the council provides good value for money but 41% feel it does not
  7. 62% of people in County Durham believe the council is “remote and impersonal” but, surprisingly, fewer people think so in Teasdale and Weardale (52%) compared than in Durham City (72%)
  8. 85% of people of residents agree that Durham is an attractive place to live
  9. 54% of residents say they are concerned about Climate Change, but 34% say they are not
  10. Finally, 10% of residents say thay have contacted their local county councillor to influence the decision making process but 24% say thay would be interested in doing so

I’ll be expecting the phone to ring tomorrow.

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