Council pay �8000 for market research

RESEARCH to find out the views of residents has cost Uttlesford tax-payers �8000

Uttlesford District Council’s paid a professional market research company to gauge its own performance through a 500-person survey across the area.

The research, which will be fed into a Citizens Panel, is essential to keep a monitor on how the council is doing in the eyes of the people it serves

Head of community engagement Richard Auty said: “Using an external provider for this is good practice and ensures a representative sample of the district.

“It is not just a case of recruiting the first 500 people who express an interest. The people who form the panel represent the cross-section of the district population in terms of things like age, gender, ethnic background and location.”

The work involves extensive recruitment, not just by postal contact but also face-to-face to ensure the harder to reach groups are represented in the panel.

Mr Auty said the cost of recruiting the panel was a one-off payment of �8000 which was approved by the Finance and Administration Committee earlier this year.

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He added: “In order to keep on-going costs as low as possible, the council took the decision to run the panel in-house – with existing staff – rather than retain the use of an external company to run the panel on our behalf as many other councils do.

“The council is committed to consulting regularly with residents and the panel helps us do this.

“It gives us the most accurate information we have probably ever had and we are very grateful to all those residents who are members of the panel.”

The council’s Citizen Panel scheme gives people the opportunity to have their say on a wide range of public services from waste collection to parking. Information is treated in the strictest confidence.

Chief executive John Mitchell said: “We want to know the views of the panel on the services and issues that affect them in their daily lives.”

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