I feel I should clarify two points...
8:00am Thursday 30th August 2012 in Letters
IN response to the letter from Dennis Harkus, ‘Satisfied? Not really’ (Barry & District News, August 23), there are two points that I feel require some clarification.
The first relates to the use of ‘don’t know’ responses. I understand Mr Harkus raised this issue directly with Beaufort Research, who conducted the council’s public opinion survey, and he was informed that this is the approach recommended by the Market Research Society, but I can see some further explanation is required.
It is standard practice in market and social research to remove ‘don’t know’ responses before calculating satisfaction scores. This is because it is not possible for an individual to express an informed opinion about a service if they have no experience of using it.
For example, if I have not used a public toilet in the Vale then I cannot answer whether I am satisfied with the public toilets or not – because I ‘don’t know’. If the results were published with the ‘don’t know’ responses included they could be very misleading.
The second is in response to the concerns about the use of the phrase ‘highways maintenance’. While Mr Harkus feels this is in some way misleading, I am confident it is not.
Highways maintenance includes many services in addition to road maintenance. This is explained to survey respondents during interview and is also made clear in the report.
Information on the council website regarding the survey states that ‘86% of residents are either very or fairly satisfied with highways maintenance, this figure has fallen from 95% in 2009. This is due largely to a fall in satisfaction with road maintenance at 42%, down from 80%, and gritting the roads, which is down to 78% from 96%’.
I believe this quite clearly implies that road maintenance and gritting the roads are aspects of highways maintenance and in no way attempts to hide or disguise the poor results in these areas, as Mr Harkus suggests.
I should point out that I also look at survey results with some scepticism, but by scrutinising the responses, as we intend to do, we will look to those things we can improve. If members of the public are approached to take part in a council survey, we would like them to give honest answers and not refuse to take part, as I know some people have. We need to know what people really think, otherwise how can there be improvements.
Cllr Neil Moore