Confidence misplaced

LETTER

I wonder how the sampling method used in the recent wastewater management options survey was worked out. The magic figure of 584 to 590 for a 95 percent confidence level was mentioned (with a margin of error +/- 4 percent) — and I am interested to know how a sample as low as this can yield a useful “picture” of ratepayer preferences in a population of 22,000.

A mail or internet survey is inherently self-selecting, and it has already been reported that the 1192 respondents had a high incidence of older people and those on higher incomes.

Let’s be clear, I failed school cert maths in 1953 and I have a history of being in error, so I am motivated to find out where I am going wrong.

I know it must be frustrating to get a low response to “consultation” — I have been to meetings and been outnumbered by council staff. I just feel that you can’t use the survey results as an argument for people’s preferences. It is not “rocket science” that this is a low socio-economic area and I know a lot of people struggle to pay rates, among other ever-burgeoning costs.

Ron Taylor

I wonder how the sampling method used in the recent wastewater management options survey was worked out. The magic figure of 584 to 590 for a 95 percent confidence level was mentioned (with a margin of error +/- 4 percent) — and I am interested to know how a sample as low as this can yield a useful “picture” of ratepayer preferences in a population of 22,000.

A mail or internet survey is inherently self-selecting, and it has already been reported that the 1192 respondents had a high incidence of older people and those on higher incomes.

Let’s be clear, I failed school cert maths in 1953 and I have a history of being in error, so I am motivated to find out where I am going wrong.

I know it must be frustrating to get a low response to “consultation” — I have been to meetings and been outnumbered by council staff. I just feel that you can’t use the survey results as an argument for people’s preferences. It is not “rocket science” that this is a low socio-economic area and I know a lot of people struggle to pay rates, among other ever-burgeoning costs.

Ron Taylor

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