Councillor Ged Mirfin who was the former Chief Data Officer of Business Link North West has criticised the on-line survey conducted by the Clitheroe Residents Action Group as being deliberately biased and highly misleading.
Councillor Mirfin states that, "A survey with only one answer is not a survey. It is deeply flawed and highly misleading because it only offers opinion from people who take a position on one side of a debate. The CRAG survey asks readers whether they agree with the statement that they have no confidence in the Leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, Ken Hind's handling of the Market Quarter Redevelopment to mandate his resignation. Asking people whether they agree with a statement to answer yes as a self confirmatory exercise is bad enough in itself. What about those people who disagree? There is simply nowhere to record their disagreement. There also exists the lockstep problem that if they agree with the first part of the statement then the Leader of the Council's resignation should automatically be called for. What about those people who lack confidence in the Leader of the Council's handling of this particular issue - the Market Quarter Redevelopment but do not think his resignation should be called for because they are broadly happy with his Leadership on a host of other issues? Or indeed have no problems with his leadership of the Council whatsoever which many don’t!"
Councillor Mirfin continues, "There is malign political intent behind this deeply flawed survey. The Leaders of CRAG are trying to force the Leader of the Council out to suit their own political ends. If this were merely part of the rough and tumble of political debate I could understand this - that is what an opposition should do, Unfortunately CRAG aren't a political party -yet! The leaders of CRAG need to come clean about why they are seeking justification for their actions through the votes of what I suspect is a cohort of respondents the majority of which will be Labour or Liberal Democrat supporting. What about the shy Tory's? They wouldn't dream of responding to a totally partisan survey of this nature because they can see the difference between questions of leadership and questions of policy. They are sophisticated enough in their understanding to recognise this tawdry exercise for what it really is - a crude attempt to get rid of a Council Leader who is leading from the front and delivering in an area where there has been a lack of progress over the years. We have found over the last few days that Conservative Voters who do not support various aspects of the redevelopment of the Market Quarter have been using the appropriate democratic political channels and contacting their Local Councillor by Letter, Email, Facebook or Phone seeking reassurances that their concerns will be listened to - which they will - rather than engaging in this childish exercise - the results of which very few sensible people will actually believe in."
Councillor Mirfin continues further, "This brings me to question the motivations behind the survey. Absent by design is an alternative to the proposal on the table, a large amount of the information about which has already been leaked to the press. Nowhere in the survey is an attempt made to solicit respondents views on how the scheme and the negotiations should be progressed in a different way. This is deficient by design! In no aspect is a solution offered to the perceived deficiencies of the scheme - nowhere in the survey are these identified and clearly laid out."
Councillor Mirfin continues yet further, "CRAG has not used the services of a professional survey company which Ribble Valley Borough Council did. The Infusion survey was carefully constructed using a sample frame based on stratified random sampling techniques so that the views of a representative cross section of Ribble Valley Residents was obtained. This survey doesn't do that and is based on a lowest common denominator response - those who oppose the scheme and want Ken Hind to resign - it is hardly representative."
Councillor Mirfin concludes, "One wonders therefore what the purpose of this data gathering exercise ultimately is. The fact that CRAG is asking respondents to identify their home Post Code is no coincidence. Is it to identify Clitheroe residents? But to what end and for what purpose? Only CRAG know the answers to that question. I urge them to come clean. Facebook Data is incredibly useful when it is collected for positive purposes. As the Cambridge Analytica Experience demonstrates there is often a fine line when it comes to determining the ends to which Data is put."
Councillor Mirfin further concludes, "I urge CRAG to cease this deeply flawed exercise as the results of this survey are now clearly in question and will be questioned as to its seriousness and relevance."