Online Wins Over Paper In Redbridge Consultation

Dan Jellinek

An online citizen consultation exercise undertaken by Redbridge Council between May and July 2008 has achieved a significantly higher response rate than a paper exercise run in parallel, a new report has found.

The council offered several ways to take part in the ‘Redbridge Conversation’, online, in person at events and on paper. Some 3,200 people responded online to the consultation, about 68% more than the 1,900 who returned a paper form that was posted to every house and distributed in public places such as leisure centres.

The ‘conversation’ asked residents to tell the council what their spending priorities for the council would be and an online budget simulator was used to help participants balance the books (http://www.redbridge.gov.uk/conversation/youchoose/). The most popular choice for investment was school improvements (selected by 61 percent of respondents) followed by recycling (53 per cent) and leisure (49 per cent).

The results have now been published (http://fastlink.headstar.com/redb2) and are being considered by the council’s capital programme panel, a cross-party body that will decide on options for long term investment. The panel is expected to make its recommendations to the cabinet in early November.

A separate analysis of the results by pollsters YouGov found the exercise had “gone a significant way” towards accomplishing its goal of conversing with the public and assessing their views about future investment and funding priorities:
http://fastlink.headstar.com/redb3.

2 Responses to “Online Wins Over Paper In Redbridge Consultation”

  1. Graham says:

    Online “wins”? Surely it’s just another alternative to paper, and some people will use one and others will use the other. Like newspapers.

    Talk of “winning” is dangerous. Did paper-based consultation “lose”, and so deserve to be scrapped?

  2. dopeyf says:

    There is more to this, the paper version was knowingly released to every home in Redbridge (some 100,000 copies) with a £70 million error (Land sales £245million against £175 million in the online version, the integrity of the paper version was compromised before it went out, this gradually crept out over the next week. We shall never know
    how much this influenced people not to fill in the paper version as it was known to be flawed, however with all the publicity put behind the “Big Conversation” without the error it is quite possible that the paper version may well have been close to online version

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