Forum Topic

Paul, it might seem like it but I wasn't being obtuse on the issue of self selection, I really didn't understand the point you were making. The way you are trying to define it is not the way it would normally be understood. To be self-selecting the universe of data collection points would have to have an inherent bias for instance if CAMTAG had chosen to poll parking permit holders. As they would be more likely to be car owners you might assume that they would be more likely to be against LTNs. This is not the case for a survey pool of all households. I think it is fair to assume most people who had a strong opinion either way on LTNs and received the leaflet would have completed it. I know some people are very protective of private data and may choose not to give their details to a third party but there is no reason to think how you felt about transport policy has any bearing on this so it is a neutral factor. It would be perverse not to fill in a survey that might have a significant bearing on the outcome of the LTN trial even if you had reservations of its provenance. That you have seen someone on Twitter saying that this is what they did is unlikely to signify this kind of response was widespread. If you believe it was then you would have to allow for the Commonplace survey significantly understating the level of opposition to LTNs because people would have refused to fill it in for similar reasons. On the issue of what you said about Commonplace I have reread it and would still advise caution. It could be deemed that you are implying something that is actionable i.e. that Commonplace is not fit for purpose. It would be sensible to confirm that what you described was not gaming per se but people encouraging those of like mind to respond and it was impossible to game the system in a way that critically undermined the value of the consultation and the confidence we can have in its response. I can accept your point about there being an element of unfairness of only one form being allowed per household but this would have not skewed the result in any particular direction. The limitation makes the results easier to audit and therefore should give you more comfort that they are accurate. You are right that we are not getting the whole picture. The headline results of these surveys and consultations do not allow for nuanced views. For instance someone I know in LTN21 says she really likes it because the traffic has been significantly reduced in her road but she is aware that it has mainly moved to a neighbouring street and therefore felt guilty about completing the survey so didn't do so. However, while we may not have full focus, we do have a pretty well defined outline which shows as it stands there is overwhelming opposition to the scheme. As I've said before the cause of sustainable transport would be better served by you accepting this as a fact but looking at the detail of the results to see where support does exist for measures. If you don't do that, the likely outcome is that the LTNs will be scrapped in their entirety as has happened in other boroughs. 

Gordon Southwell ● 173d

Paul, apologies but I cannot recall the reasons you gave for categorising the CAMTAG survey as self-selecting. I do remember you saying that some people you know refused to complete it because of privacy concerns but it is extremely unlikely that this would be a significant factor in the overall outcome. It is a safe assumption that most people who were strongly in favour of the LTN would have completed the survey if they had received the form. I think for your financial security you should choose your words a bit more carefully when it comes to suggesting Commonplace was gamed. What you describe happening in no way suggests that the overall outcome is unreliable. I'm sure both sides were encouraging those of like mind to make comments. Most people would understand a survey as being gamed if a small number of people managed to generate a large number of responses leading to the results being unrepresentative. This does not appear to be what you are alleging here. I don't understand the relevance of the point about the CAMTAG survey being by household. This surely was the best way to protect the integrity of the overall result. It would be very hard to audit multiple votes per household. It seems to me that the quibbles you have with the available evidence may have some validity if you were questioning the precise accuracy of the surveys and consultations but in no way compromise the overall picture of a very strong balance of opinion against LTNs from residents within their boundaries. I'll ask again, if you are determined to dismiss CAMTAG, Commonplace, two very large marches, a huge imbalance in the petition and counter-petition and overwhelming opposition to the schemes reported by the council in the emails they are receiving (thank you Tricia for pointing this out), what evidence can you provide that there is a high level of support for LTNs from Ealing residents?

Gordon Southwell ● 174d

Paul, thanks for your response. It is appreciated. On the question of whether the CAMTAG survey can be deemed comprehensive, although I am not a market research professional, I'm pretty confident that by any industry benchmark it would considered to be. Leaflet campaigns and surveys undertaken for firms I have worked for and I've seen the analysis of the results never got anywhere near that level of response. Returns of less than one per cent were not unusual. As I've said previously you factor in a very high level of wastage in leaflet campaigns because a huge proportion will be thrown away unread. 23% is a notably high number and way higher than you would need to safely assume the returns are representative of the whole subset you were surveying — in this case the residents of LTN21. Given the size of the distribution and the number of returns it would be assumed for the purposes of analysis that a dataset of over a thousand would be a pretty infallible guide to the overall result as the chances of any outliers or specific distortions would be ruled out. Of course, it is not independent or audited in any way so you could still claim the returns were simply made up and discount this survey. However, it would be unwise of you to do the same for the Commonplace consultation. You are probably aware of the association of Peter Mason the Ealing councillor with the company that supplies the Commonplace software. It was a controversial decision to use this company but it would be an utter scandal if the application was as deficient as you claim it to be. A large amount of taxpayer money has been spent on this system and if it is not fit for purpose something needs to be done immediately. If you have sound reasons for saying that you believe the Commonplace system has 'clearly been gamed' you urgently need to outline them here and inform Ealing Council and Commonplace about weaknesses you have identified. If you can't provide some backup for your claim you risk a potentially expensive dispute with the company who will say your allegations will reduce their revenues. To my non-expert eyes the system does seem to have processes to stop manipulation that are quite robust. I haven't done a 'deep-dive' into the comments for a while but looked at a significant number a few months ago and there seem to be no pattern to the feedback which suggested anyone was trying to distort the results. It was detailed and specific in a way that would be impossible to generate automatically. Even if you dismiss the evidence of overwhelming local opposition to the LTNs provided by CAMTAG and Commonplace there are other indications that support that this is the true position. The huge demonstration, the massively higher number of people signing the anti-LTN petition compared to the pro— one. Personally I seem to constantly be coming across anecdotal evidence that the LTNs have very little support such as the strong views expressed in my neighbourhood WhatsApp group and the unanimous hostility to the schemes of the local friends I finally got to meet up with for lunch at the weekend. I did ask you earlier for any evidence you could provide to counter the body of data that is pointing towards massive opposition to LTNs among the people they are supposed to benefit. The only thing that Better Ealing Streets has been able to come up with is non-localised surveys which show that people are in favour of the idea of LTNs. This tells us nothing about the shade of opinion on LTN21. There is no dispute from me that we need to reduce the number of vehicles on the road but any measure has to consider the elasticity of demand for driving. If the vast majority of journeys are non-substitutable then by making them longer you will end up with more vehicles on the road at any given point in time. There doesn't seem to have been any robust research on the breakdown of London traffic by purpose of journey but the data that we have points to short trips by private cars making up a small proportion of the vehicle miles travelled in London in any given day. It seems highly likely therefore that the LTNs are increasing traffic and congestion overall. I believe that the evidence points to there being massive opposition and that this is primarily a result, not of selfish drivers unhappy about inconvenience, but that people in Ealing, every bit as committed to safer streets and cleaner air as you, recognise that LTNs are making things worse not better.

Gordon Southwell ● 174d

Paul, I'm genuinely sorry that you have been subjected to a line of questioning that seems motivated by personal animosity and a desire to make petty points rather than intending to have a rational debate about this important issue. The matter you raised in your original post is the key question here. While I agreed with you the headline of the article was made more appropriate by being qualified to show that 'massive support' was shown by the number of respondents, I never accepted in its original form it was extremely misleading as you claim because it seems to me the survey is an accurate reflection of the views of LTN21 residents. I know I have raised this same point a number of times but you have never addressed it. It is hard for you to totally reject the CAMTAG survey given that its results show exactly the same breakdown of opposition that the council's Commonplace consultation did. As far as I am aware these are the only two comprehensive surveys of what Ealing residents feel about the council's traffic measures. There is also a wide range of anecdotal evidence that suggests a high level of opposition. Whether you believe there were 1,000 or 5,000 at the march yesterday that is a lot of people. Better Ealing Streets refer to other surveys which show support for LTNs in their response to the march. They fail to mention that these are London wide surveys. Of course most people support the concept of LTNs, I certainly do and believe they will become increasingly important but it is preposterous to ignore the much more representative local surveys. In calling the news report 'extremely misleading' you have set a high bar for accuracy but you then need to be consistent and not just hold information you disagree with to impossibly high standards. The facts seem to point very adamantly to there being a high level of opposition to the LTNs in Ealing and it is Better Ealing Streets who are distorting the issue in my view. If you have an explanation as to why the CAMTAG and Commonplace surveys have got it so wrong it would be interesting to hear but a minority view that claims to represent a silent majority is always deluded. As far as I can see any disinterested observer will conclude opposition to LTNs in Ealing is massive. If you and Better Ealing Streets persist in the claim that these schemes are popular with residents you will be doing immense damage to the cause of sustainable travel and safer streets in Ealing. I absolutely believe that strenuous efforts should be made to encourage walking and cycling but I see no strong evidence that unnecessary private car journeys that could easily be switched to walking and cycling make up a very large proportion of vehicle journeys on our roads. Even if  we are successful encouraging some modal shift this is going to be outweighed by the significant population growth that the borough is about to experience. It would be a grave error to think that 'car free' developments mean that the residents won't generate extra vehicle movements. If I am correct this actually strengthens the case for LTNs but you need to bear in mind that the current processes which use Experimental Traffic Orders and minimal road modelling will be gone quite shortly. Maybe even in weeks if the Gove coup against Boris Johnson is successful. Although this will mean it will take longer to introduce LTNs, they will be better conceived and much more likely to achieve their aim. The problem will emerge that, because you and Ealing Council have told people that black is white and LTNs are popular, there will be a significant legacy of mistrust about the concept and it will become much harder to implement even the best conceived schemes. You and Better Ealing Streets are damaging your credibility by the quixotic insistence that LTNs are popular in Ealing in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It would be far better if you were to recognise initially that the CAMTAG survey showed that there were parts of the LTN21 scheme that did have a significant amount of resident support and working to ensure these were retained. Your all or nothing approach means that it is more likely that there will be a clean sweep of the measures instituted by the end of the year with nothing kept and a legacy of resident suspicion over any new measures put forward. 

Gordon Southwell ● 175d

So you keep saying, but in Ealing a lot of people have very good reasons for having one. As usual you assume everyone is in the same situation as you when you ought to know that’s not true.For someone who wants Heathrow expansion because it’s important to the local economy you seem remarkably naive about how local economies work. For many people mobility is key to their livelihoods and of far more economic benefit to them than adding extra flights to an already overcrowded, and highly polluting, airport. But you know that, don’t you?You appear to think everyone drives around for the hell of it, but nobody does in Ealing. However, one suggestion would be for all those people who complain about traffic and pollution to give up three vehicles and vow never to get behind the wheel again. Except they won’t, because it would make their lives more difficult. We even know who some of them are.According to the council 70 percent of traffic in Ealing is from outside the borough. What’s your solution to stopping them coming in and polluting our air? Or is it just your fellow Ealing residents you despise for car use?And an extra wide bike lane? Sounds like you’ve got self interest at heart there, Paul.As yet it’s not illegal to own and drive a car. There’s no minimum journey requirement. Not even a definition of a local journey or an essential journey. You ought to become an MP so you can put the relevant legislation in place for those things. I’m sure you’d get a big turnout, maybe even 23%.

Simon Hayes ● 177d

The worst culprits being Ealing Council, and its leader. Unless it’s from the Guardian it’s not valid, despite that publication being very unreliable in giving any balanced news.I’m not aware of anyone complaining about the response time headline.There’s nothing wrong with having views, but if those views are predicated on misinformation, or indeed, outright lies, then they ought to be robustly questioned.What we’ve seen throughout this saga is a refusal of the council to engage in any worthwhile manner with residents. The narrative changes to suit whatever whom comes from Bell, and he uses his Twitter echo chamber to bolster his narrow world view. Local Labour councillors have lied to residents on Bell’s behalf, and now simply refuse to answer straightforward requests from the people they expect to vote for them next year.The council website clearly states that LTNs can be removed, yet this council has consistently refused to explain any mechanism by which that could happen. It makes a mockery of any supposed consultation process, for which the council is using taxpayers money, but then given the council’s track record on consultation I guess that’s not a surprise.One shouldn’t expect much honesty from a man who declares there’s a social housing crisis, yet insists on retaining a social housing property for his family’s use despite owning a large house round the corner. The wonder is there are still enough people foolish enough to believe anything he says.

Simon Hayes ● 178d