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Concern over low resident response rate to ‘Big Notts Survey’

Concerns have been raised about Nottinghamshire County Council’s ‘Big Notts Survey’ after 7,000 responses were received from hundreds of thousands of requests.

 

Council figures show the survey received 6,136 responses between August 23 and its launch three weeks earlier.

This number has since increased to “over 7,000”, the council’s leader confirmed at Thursday’s policy committee meeting.

It is described as the “highest number of engagements” from any survey conducted by the authority.

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But the number of responses is falling far short of the authority’s wide-ranging consultation targets.

The survey, which closes on September 19, has been sent to hundreds of thousands of homes, asking residents their views on numerous issues before responses drive the council’s emerging 10-year plan.

Adverts have also been taken out online, and the survey amounts to an overall cost of £50,000 to the taxpayer.

Councillor Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), who sits on the policy committee, described the survey as a “missed opportunity”.

Cllr Zadrozny, whose Ashfield District Council received more than 11,000 responses for its Towns Fund consultation, said: “Looking at it, this £50,000 cost is roughly £8 per response.

“The report says this 6,136 is a ‘strong appetite’ from residents – but I’m not sure 0.7 per cent [of the population] is a strong appetite.

“I don’t want to talk it down, but I think this is so important. It’s such a missed opportunity because it could have been significantly better.

“I’ll be amazed if we get to 10,000, it might well be the best the county has ever done, but it doesn’t mean that’s good enough.”

The survey is asking residents questions on a wide range of issues, including Covid recovery, the biggest issues in their area, and their aspirations for the future.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Ben Bradley MP (Con), leader of the authority, said he is “optimistic” more responses will arrive before the September 19 deadline.

He added: “As we go forward, I’ve asked for this to be the start of an ongoing, two-way conversation with residents, and that we’re going back to those residents and telling them what we’re doing.

“I think this is important, we always get criticism that people submit ideas and views into a consultation, but never hear anything again.

“I don’t want us to be in that place, and there’s a long-term piece of work to be done here.”

Cllr Bruce Laughton (Con), deputy leader of the council, has been leading on the survey and accepted there is more to be done.

He told the committee: “Do I think it’s enough? No, it isn’t and I’d much rather have double, or treble that.

“This is the first time Nottinghamshire County Council has gone down this route, it’s a learning exercise for all of us, really.”

The survey can be accessed on the council’s website and social media pages, as well as in the county’s libraries.

•  Go to survey here > Have your say on the future of Nottinghamshire – survey launched

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