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Village Diary

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Richmond council’s policy on CPZ consultations is surely a mistake.

Richmond council has a policy on CPZ consultations that results must show that over 50% of the total households in an area are in favour.

We contend that this is arbitrary and unfair and surely the result of some mistake.

In general, democratic votes are determined by some form of a majority of those who turn up to vote. If you don’t vote, your opinion doesn’t count. This is a bedrock of democracy in this country (and further afield). Why not LBRuT parking consultations?

A clear example in Hampton Wick

This is best explained by way of an example. Most people would agree that 55:45 is a good democratic majority. However, to satisfy the above policy rule, a turnout of at least 91% would be needed! There is no way that a turnout of that magnitude could be achieved over a parking policy consultation.

In the recent Hampton Wick CPZ consultation, the key published numbers are as follows:

The survey results state that the sample was 2,106 households.
They show a 445/2106 = 21% total response rate.
Agree/strongly agree = 262 representing 59% of responders in favour.
Disagree/Strongly disagree = 140 representing 31% of responders against.
Not answered/neither agree nor disagree = 43 representing 10%

So, in round numbers 445 respondents with a majority in favour of approx. 2:1. And yet the proposal is dismissed!

In fact, in Hampton Wick, if all 445 respondents had been agree/strongly agree, with 0 disagree/strongly disagree this would only have represented 21% of householders in favour and would still have been dismissed – this seems a little odd.

Simply unworkable, even with unanimity

Taking it further still, if there had been 1,000 respondents all in favour with not a single household against, it still wouldn’t have been approved. This just seems plain wrong.

More to the point it seems that the council has wasted six months, lots of council employee time and money and toyed with residents’ expectations completely needlessly.

In Hampton Wick with the demonstrated 59:31 ratio in favour, a response rate of a staggering 85% would have been necessary to satisfy LBRuT’s idiosyncratic “more than 50% of the total households” rule (see calculation at foot of page).

What is the policy of similar local boroughs?

We were so intrigued by this arbitrary and unfair rule that Richmond has implemented that we checked on neighbouring boroughs’ policy.

Wandsworth (Richmond’s Shared Services Agreement partner) seem to have a more rational policy where they encourage responses but expect a minimum response rate of 25% – importantly no arbitrary minimum household-in-favour rate.

Merton only look for a simple majority response.

Ealing looks for a simple majority with a reasonable response rate.

Indeed, we couldn’t find another borough with such an odd policy as Richmond’s.

The HWA believes it is time for Richmond’s unfair and unworkable policy to be reviewed and fairness restored.

*Half of 2,106 total households = 1,053. As the preference ratio seems to be 59% we’d need at least 1,785 responses to get 1,053 in favour. 1,785 responses is a response rate of 85% of 2,106.

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