Was Consultation Outcome a Fair Representation?
Oh Dear! When Highways England reviewed the results of the 47,034 responses to the Lower Thames Crossing consultation, they found that (embarrassingly) the majority were opposed to their plans for Option C.
A similar problem had arisen in 2013, when the majority supported a crossing at Dartford. To try to avoid this happening again, Highways England decided not to include Dartford in the latest consultation, and also to extend the consultation to 1.2 million people, the vas…t majority of whom do not live in the area and have scant knowledge of the issues.
So imagine their embarrassment when the results came in showing that well over 25,000 members of the public opposed Option C, while less than 20,000 supported it!
They knew they could rely on the separately-counted 528 “stakeholder groups”, which included business and transport organisations, development and infrastructure organisations, KCC, ECC, and other local authorities. These voted overwhelmingly in favour of Option C.
Then someone had a brainwave. Why not identify a large number of members of the public who oppose Option C, and reclassify them as a small number of ‘stakeholder organisations, where they would be swamped by those business organisations who were strongly in favour of Option C? Brilliant!
So that’s exactly what they did. They identified 13,240 people who strongly opposed Option C, took them out of the ‘members of the public’ category, and reclassified them into just 10 ‘organised campaigns’. These 10 ‘votes’ were then put into the stakeholder category, where they were vastly outnumbered by the business, transport, and development organisations.
And lo & behold, this reduced the number of members of the public opposed to Option C from over 25,000 to less than 12,000, so now they could be comfortably outnumbered by those who supported Option C.
They do say there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. I think Highways England has manipulated the results into damn lies.