HEREFORDSHIRE Council ran a professional online consultation on their 2014-15 budget which received 750 responses – 0.5% return from the county’s voters.
Nevertheless, the results of this consultation were accepted as valid and reported on by all the local newspapers earlier this year.
The recent informal survey conducted online by Cllr Rich Hadley received responses from 200/7500 voters in Ledbury – 2.7% return.
Proportionally, a five times greater sample size than was achieved by the county – and yet this was headlined as being 'a flop' in the Ledbury Reporter (April 25).
How can this be?
Is there a benchmark regarding the validity of survey samples which has only recently been decided upon, to which the Gannett newspaper group [publisher of the Ledbury Reporter ] is privy?
Odd, when professional analysts have spent years developing their understanding of statistically significant sample sets; consequently we regularly see opinion surveys being given credence in the national media when their samples represent 0.003% or less of the voting population.
It is ironic that the subject matter of the survey in question is that of public engagement in the democratic process, especially given the important and influential role of the fourth estate in the dissemination of information and the shaping of public opinion.
For future reference, it would be most helpful to receive a statement from this newspaper group regarding the yardsticks now being used to measure the accuracy, validity and success of public consultations in Herefordshire, and further afield.
Herefordshire County councillor and Ledbury town councillor