I’ve received a survey to fill in from Swindon Borough Council, titled ‘Life in Swindon Survey’. If the opening blurb is to be believed, its purpose matches its title.
We would like to hear your views about life in your local area and about issues such as, anti-social behaviour, leisure activities and your health. Your view will help us to plan our future services around residents’s priorities.
The survey itself though has very few questions specifically about ‘Life in Swindon’: only four out of thirty two. Three of these make up the entirety of the ‘Culture & leisure’ and ‘Your feelings about your local community’ sections (one on which attractions have been visited, one on satisfaction with Swindon town centre, and one on problems in the ‘local area’) and the other (on local adult education) is in the ‘Work and skills’ section. The section titled ‘Your community’ is virtually nothing about the community and almost everything about the individual filling in the form, with two questions about individual involvement in voluntary work, another on individual ability to influence decisions and only one on the community (about how well people from different backgrounds get on). Seven of the thirty two questions are standard demographic questions used primarily for classifying respondents. Having filled it in, I feel like I’ve been answering a survey that’s more about me than it is about Swindon or ‘Life in Swindon’.
I can’t help feeling this was a wasted opportunity. Much of the survey seems to be seeking information obtainable from other government agencies. What little’s left was hardly worth the effort — and possibly not the consultants’ fee either. There’s so much more to say on ‘Life in Swindon’ than answers to three questions can tell.