HIE launches squanderfest survey of TWENTY SIX THOUSAND people

by Colin Campbell

A SURVEY titled “My Life in the Highlands and Islands” is a new project just announced by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

What does this involve?

According to HIE: “Housing, jobs, education, local services, and transport. Can you access the things you want in your community?

“We’ve asked Ipsos MORI to invite 13,000 households across the region to take part in a survey to get a snapshot of what’s important to local people in our communities. The findings will help us support social and economic growth.

“Invitations to take part will be dropping through doors soon. If you’re selected, we’d love to hear from up to two members of the household – including any young adults, 16-29 years olds.”

HIE boss Stuart Black.

There is something that I find truly extraordinary about this initiative.

How many people are normally involved in surveys where a selection of random public opinion is sought on various matters?

A couple of hundred? A few hundred, to bump it out and make it more comprehensive? That would be reasonable.

But no, HIE is aiming to get the views on housing, jobs, transport and so on from 13,000 households and TWENTY SIX THOUSAND people across the Highlands.

That’s about 15 or 20 per cent of the entire adult population.

If that number of people or anything like it take time to write down their views on housing, transport, jobs and so on it will produce enough paperwork to fill a warehouse.

For what identifiable purpose?

How many thousands of people does HIE need to ask about housing before accepting that what people want is more of it?

Do they think that some of the 26,000 surveyed are liable to deviate from that opinion and argue that there should be fewer houses built, or none at all, or that some of the existing housing stock should be demolished and replaced with insulated tents?

And what about education? Do they really need to ask 26,000 people if they’d like more schools. Answer: YES. Less crowded and over-subscribed schools. YES. And better educational outcomes for their children. YES.

Unless there’s loads of money to burn, couldn’t they have gleaned the broad thrust of public opinion on these issues, if they thought it was necessary, by asking a couple of thousand people across different parts of the Highlands. Wouldn’t that have been more than adequate?

Rather than asking TWENTY SIX THOUSAND.

The same applies broadly to transport, leisure and other issues involved. We know what people want.

Better roads, fewer potholes, more sports facilities.

There might be some conflicting views on transport. Some people might want more cycle lanes and fewer cars in urban areas. That’s pretty obvious. Other people will want fewer cycle lanes, better parking facilities and the freedom to drive where they want. That’s also pretty obvious.

Many will want better and more public transport, buses that run more frequently and on schedule.

This we already know from discourse already widely covered in the public domain.

Has the resident brains trust at Highland and Islands Enterprise not noticed this already? And they completely in the dark about it?

How did the managerial summit at which it was decided to launch this survey go?

Did HIE chief Stuart Black, who has spent his highly paid career flitting between there and Highland Council,  say: “I wonder what people think about housing, leisure, cars, bikes and buses. I know what to do. Let’s ask 26,000.”

To a chorus of approval from all the others present. “What a brilliant idea!”

How much is all this costing?

HIE has commissioned pollsters Ipsos Mori to conduct this survey.

They must be rubbing their hands with glee. One Christmas has just gone but the next for them has arrived in January.

An average survey might involve 1,000 people or thereabouts and yield some profit.

But one involving 13,000 households and 26,000 people? That’s liable to be an absolute bonanza for them.

And in terms of sifting through thousands upon thousands of replies and collating the views on them, that could be spun out forever.

This must be the biggest bureaucratic exercise ever undertaken in the Highlands, dressed up as a mega-public friendly initiative.

When all it looks like is a complete waste of public money.

And that’s just what we need at a time when organisations like Highland Council are pleading poverty as never before and can’t find funding for the very basics. Massive Highlands and Islands Enterprise indulgence in the creation of a mountain of paperwork, form filling and bureaucracy.

And thousands upon thousands of working hours being used to process it all.

When the outcome, more housing, better schools, more leisure facilities etc etc can be pretty much deduced before it’s even begun.

What does HIE expect this to yield? Some magical insight, some inspirational idea, that no one has ever thought of before? Heaven only knows what they’re expecting. But they’re not going to get it.

If they’re aiming for a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the instigators of the largest, most extravagant and most futile public relations exercise of all time, they stand a good chance of being included in the next edition.

Before starting their 26,000 survey HIE should send a clerk out in the street and ask a few passers-by what they think of it.

That’s something that we already also know the answer to.

It would be branded as a grossly overblown and quite extraordinary  waste of time, resources, effort and money.

2 thoughts on “HIE launches squanderfest survey of TWENTY SIX THOUSAND people

  1. Every Chief Executive appointment made in the Highlands automatically generates a period of fake work lasting many months during which those newly appointed Chief Executives consult the public and other stakeholders.

    The information gathered about what problems exist and what needs to be done to solve those problems is useful for only one thing.

    Enabling the newly appointed Chief Executives to prevent anything from happening while they are focused on their management team restructurings.

    This period of fake work is only possible because all the problems that the public will highlight are already known.

    Not only are they already known but they have already been discussed by the newly appointed Chief Executives with their Interview Panels at length.

    Anyone who thinks that Interview Panel Members need the opinions of 26,000 members of the Public to discover what their Chief Executives should be focused on is mistaken.


  2. And why couldn’t they have done an independent poll on whether or not the Inverness public wanted the Gathering Place? Maybe they knew it wouldn’t have come out with what they wanted to hear?


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