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Misleading Press Releases

MORI Survey 2008

Readers may want to read the section on Street Cleaning & Litter before proceeding further.

In January 2009 the Council issued a press release reporting on the results of a MORI survey which they had commissioned .  These links will take you to the survey  report and the accompanying tables. To support some of the claims in the press release the council  provided me with a table of figures they had drawn up comparing their MORI results with a survey produced by TNS  for London Councils.

I wrote to Sandra Jenkins, LBH’s Cabinet Member For the Environment, on 4th March asking why the Council did not to include a question asking for a satisfaction rating for street cleaning  and  for an explanation of the seemingly unjustifiable claims made in the press release. 

Not having  heard anything back I e-mailed her again on 20th March reminding her that the LBH constitution requires the Council to give its reasons for the decisions that it makes. 

On 26th March I received a dismissive reply from Cllr Ray Puddifoot, the Leader of the Council which characterised my concerns as opinions.  I replied on 30th March saying that I had raised points of fact not opinions and asking him to explain why no question asking for a satisfaction rating on street cleansing had been included in the MORI survey.

The e-mails are reproduced below:

    From: Hillingdon-Watch
    Sent: 04 March 2009 16:03
    To: Sandra Jenkins (LBH Cabinet Member Environment))
    Cc: Nick Hurd (MP For Ruilsip Northwood); John McDonnell (MP Hayes& Harlington); John Randall (MP Uxbridge); Anthony Way (LBH Labour Group Leader); Cllr. Mike Cox ( LHB Leader Lib Dems); Hugh Dunnachie - Chief Executive, LB Hillingdon
    Subject: Misleading LBH Press Release

    Cllr Sandra
    Jenkins LBH Cabinet Member for the Environment
    4th March 2008

    Dear Cllr Jenkins

    In January the Council issued a press release reporting on the results of a MORI opinion survey which it had commissioned.  1,086 Hillingdon residents returned questionnaires answering questions about  the Council’s image, communications, information provision, priorities, and local services. Under local services, respondents were asked about their degree of satisfaction with the provision of  waste collection, planning, safety, libraries, parks, education, leisure facilities, health, housing, social services, child care and youth facilities.  However, they were not asked to give a satisfaction rating for street cleansing even though in the 2006 residents' survey, cleaner streets were flagged up as one of the most important factors amongst residents.

    In spite of this the press release claimed under main findings: “A clean and attractive borough - very high levels of satisfaction”.   The supporting information listed underneath related to waste collection which only indirectly has a bearing on cleanliness.  Can you please explain why the Council chose not to include a question asking for a satisfaction rating for  street cleaning and why, without proper supporting evidence, this claim was made.

    The press release also states:  “When compared to other London Boroughs, the results put Hillingdon amongst the best in London”. I understand from the Council’s Press Office that the comparative figures used for supporting this claim came from  a survey produced for London Councils over 2 years ago.  Incidentally this survey did ask respondents to give a rating for street cleaning.  As well as being out of date the results of this survey are not comparable to those from the Council’s.  In making their comparison the Council have treated  a “fairly satisfied” rating in their poll  as equivalent  to a “good” rating in the London wide poll biasing the results in their favour.

    Do you agree that the  Council was wrong in claiming the results of its survey put  Hillingdon amongst  the best in London?

    This is discussed more fully at www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk in the  Street Cleaning & Litter and the  Press Release sections.  The latter provides links to all of the relevant documents.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Peter Silverman
    www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk    
    20 Kingsend, Ruislip, HA4 7DA
    01895 625770



    From: Hillingdon-Watch [mailto:petersilverman@hillingdon-watch.org.uk]
    Sent: 20 March 2009 11:45
    To: Sandra Jenkins (LBH Cabinet Member Environment))
    Cc: Nick Hurd (MP For Ruilsip Northwood); John McDonnell (MP Hayes& Harlington); John Randall (MP Uxbridge); Anthony Way (LBH Labour Group Leader); Cllr. Mike Cox ( LHB Leader Lib Dems); Hugh Dunnachie - Chief Executive, LB Hillingdon

    Subject: Misleading LBH Press Release

    Cllr Sandra
    Jenkins LBH Cabinet Member for the Environment
    20th March 2008

    Dear Cllr Jenkins,

    Please refer to my e-mail to you of 4th March which you can see by actioning this link http://www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk/html/pres_releases.html .  

    I am somewhat concerned I have yet to receive a reply or acknowledgement from you.  Could you please indicate when a reply might be forthcoming.

    In the e-mail I asked why certain decisions were made.  Please bear in mind Article 13.02 of the LBH Constitution (page 66) which says "All decisions of the Council are made in accordance with the following principles: … (g) making clear what options were considered and rejected in the making of a decision and giving the reasons for that”.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Peter Silverman
    www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk   
    20 Kingsend, Ruislip, HA4 7DA
    01895 625770



    From: Cllr Raymond Puddifoot [mailto:RPuddifoot@Hillingdon.Gov.UK]
    Sent: 26 March 2009 17:46
    To: petersilverman@hillingdon-watch.org.uk
    Cc: Cllr Anthony Way; Cllr Sandra Jenkins; Nick HURD
    Subject: E mail to Cllr Sandra Jenkins dated 4th March 2009 re The Residents Survey

    Dear Mr Silverman,

    I refer to your e mail to Cllr. Jenkins regarding the results of the residents survey and subsequent press release.
    We were very pleased  with the high ratings given by residents for recycling,waste collection and green spaces and know of no other London Borough with such levels of satisfaction and this was reflected in the press notice. We will continue to work to improve the street scene, develop our streets ahead programme, expand our street champions initiative and we have just consulted residents on developing a street litter enforcement policy.
    Your are of course entitled to your own opinion on the performance of the current Administration and can express these on your website. We are content to be judged by those that we represent at election time and accordingly we will not be entering into further correspondence with you on this matter.
     
    Regards
    Ray Puddifoot
    Leader of the Council



    From: Hillingdon-Watch [mailto:petersilverman@hillingdon-watch.org.uk]
    Sent: 30 March 2009 10:03
    To: 'Cllr Raymond Puddifoot'
    Cc: Sandra Jenkins (LBH Cabinet Member Environment)); Nick Hurd (MP For Ruilsip Northwood); John Randall (MP Uxbridge); John McDonnell (MP Hayes& Harlington); Cllr. Mike Cox ( LHB Leader Lib Dems); Anthony Way (LBH Labour Group Leader)

    Subject: Misleading Press Release

    Cllr Ray Puddifoot
    Civic Centre
    Uxbridge

    Dear Cllr Puddifoot,
    Thank you for your e-mail of 26th March in reply to mine to Cllr Sandra Jenkins of 4th and 20th March. You can see all of the correspondence on the Hillingdon-Watch web site (www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk) under Press Releases.

    The London Borough Of Hillingdon had commissioned MORI to carry out a wide ranging residents’ opinion survey towards the end of 2008.  I had raised concerns about the claims made in the Council’s follow up press release issued in January.   In reply you say I am entitled to my opinion.  However the points raised were points of fact – not opinions.  Let me briefly summarise them:

    Fact 1. Earlier surveys had flagged up “cleaner streets” as a major concern of residents.
    Fact 2. However, the survey did not ask residents to give a satisfaction rating for street cleansing.
    Fact 3. In spite of this the press release stated “A clean and attractive borough - very high levels of satisfaction”
    Fact 4. It went on to say “When compared to other London Boroughs, the results put Hillingdon amongst the best in London”
    Fact 5  In doing the comparison the Council treated a “fairly satisfactory” opinion in Hillingdon as equivalent to a “good” rating in a London wide survey - biasing the interpretation in its favour.

    I would appreciate it if you could look again at my e-mail and answer the questions raised. 

    Article 13.02 of the LBH Constitution (page 66) which says "All decisions of the Council are made in accordance with the following principles: … (g) making clear what options were considered and rejected in the making of a decision and giving the reasons for that”.  Please give the reasons for not including a satisfaction rating question on street cleansing in the MORI survey.

    You say “We are content to be judged by those that we represent at election time…” However, as I am sure you will agree,  that judgement should be exercised in the light of reliable information from the Council.

    Cllr Puddifoot, I look forwards to hearing from you.

    Peter Silverman
    www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk