Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Opinion: The Earley NAG Survey, Are We Any Wiser?

by Anthony Vick

The Earley Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG), a voluntary group set-up in partnership with Thames Valley Police, recently conducted a survey to determine what matters to local people and what the Police and Local Authorities should be focusing their attention on. The results, it has to be said, were largely predictable with: Speeding, Dog Mess & Parking coming out as the top three issues, and the number of responses was very low indeed, so, was there any point in asking in the first place?

Well [I should admit upfront that I helped, supported, promoted and analysed this survey], yes, I think so. I believe the Earley NAG has a duty to consult with local residents, whatever influence it holds over the Police and Local Government is for the public benefit and not just for those who attend its meetings, and if you read Thames Valley Police guidance on NAGs you'll see they're expected to consult with the public and that's what the NAG has tried to do.

Why was the response rate so low? In my opinion it's mainly because the Earley NAG isn't a well known organisation and people don't understand what it does, but it may also have helped if the survey had been better promoted and publicised. Frankly there were never going to be tens of thousands of responses, however, the survey has provided a temperature check (of the toe in the water variety) on local opinion, survey responses have provided the police with useful information, and it has in itself helped promote the Earley NAG and encourage more people to sign up to Community Alert (  which can only be considered positive.

As for the results, it was widely expected that Speeding would come top, closely followed by litter and then anti-social behaviour, and I think it speaks well of Earley and our Police force that anti-social behaviour didn't make the top three. Long may it continue. 

But are we any wiser? A little perhaps. These results closely mirror those from our own Lib Dem surveys and doorstep conversations, which is why Clive Jones is already campaigning against speeding in Hawkedon on Cutbush Lane and Carshalton Way, and we're petitioning for  a pedestrian crossing on Kilnsea Drive. We certainly take the survey seriously and will be working hard over the coming months to try and combat Dog Mess and Parking too. 

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