Street signs: part II

The streets of Wanstead around Christchurch Green. ©2017 GoogleThe streets of Wanstead around Christchurch Green. ©2017 Google

The streets of Wanstead and across Redbridge need more attention, says Steve Wilks and Scott Wilding as they take a look at the findings of the Redbridge Streets Commission in the second of two articles.

The Redbridge Streets Commission was set up earlier this year, consisting of a panel of five non-party political commissioners. They were tasked to produce an independent report, which was published over the summer.

Focus groups were asked about their views on the streets in Redbridge. While it is welcome that the council promotes listening and engaging with its residents, there were a number of shortcomings with the way this commission carried out its findings, and a close examination of the metrics paints a different perspective of the issues at hand.

It is important to look at how the findings were collated and the process of investigation followed. One thing that was inadequate was the scale of responses residents could give about their opinions of streets in the borough. While a three-point grade (good, satisfactory and poor) is simple, it does not capture the challenging issues that a complex borough like Redbridge faces. These grades were also not defined with any significant assessment criteria to help respondents give the most objective answers possible. This opens up a degree of interpretation. One resident's 'poor' might be another person's 'satisfactory'. A more scientific and objective survey with a scale of grades would have provided greater insight and provided focus on whether further resources are needed to improve a particular aspect of our streets.

The sampling of respondents was 400 and this could be argued to be too small a sample to draw any meaningful conclusions – Redbridge has some 280,000 residents (as at the 2011 census). There is also no analysis on how those 400 were dispersed across the borough, meaning it may not be wholly representative and may concentrate on a particular part of Redbridge. While the council cannot compel residents to respond to questionnaires, there is definitely scope to be more proactive and engage more people from different wards. The council should explain the importance of their views, even if it means the data has to be collated over a longer time span. More haste, less speed!

On the findings, it seems to be the case that a very large minority of people are not content with the standard of street services the council is currently providing (some 44.2% stated that cleanliness of their neighbourhood is poor and almost 50% of respondents thought the council does a poor job of cleaning our streets). I would suspect this has since increased following changes in the green waste scheme introduced earlier this year (but after the commission was initiated).

As with Wanstead's parking consultation, the council needs to think how it approaches these initiatives in order to secure the most accurate data response.

To read the Redbridge Streets Commission report, visit wavidi.co/streets


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