SURVEYS BEG MORE QUESTIONS THAN THEY ASK
City of Edinburgh Council has launched a new three-part consultation on how to enhance, protect, and care for the city’s parks and greenspaces over the next 30 years.
The Thriving Green Spaces Project is a partnership between the Council’s Parks, Greenspaces and Cemeteries Service and Greenspace Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust, Edinburgh University, and the Edinburgh Green Spaces Forum.
The National Lottery Fund and Natural Trust have provided £899,500 in funding. The aim, says a Council press release, is ‘to develop bold and innovative financial and management solutions for the green [and blue/shoreline] spaces against a backdrop of financial uncertainty’.
Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan (Ward 12) is Edinburgh’s Parks Leader and the Project Champion. She says, ‘It will determine how we change and adapt the ways in which we manage our outdoor spaces, to make sure that they continue to play an active role in delivering benefits in areas such as health and wellbeing, active travel, biodiversity, recreation and social cohesion.’
You can access the consultations by following the links below:
A sustainable, well-thought-through, long-term solution based on local aspirations of course makes sense. We welcome the initiative.
How does it work in practice?
This observer is unconvinced about how these surveys have been delivered. While the dreaded loaded questions were less in evidence than feared, the following glitches were serious enough to merit a re-think.–AM
1. How do you use and what do you think of Edinburgh’s green and blue spaces?
- This lumps East and West Princes Street Gardens together, when in fact the challenges facing them (particularly commercial challenges to do with actual and potential infrastructure/footfall) are quite different.
- It asks participants to rate how easy it is to walk to ‘the site’ without clarifying the route or distance being described.
- It asks participants to rate maintenance and plant quality without providing space to distinguish between, say, routine grass cutting and repairs to damage caused by extraordinary uses.
- There is a jittery first map on Question 4 with no opportunity to go back and correct placing of the marker afterwards. This correspondent accidently marked Tesco Broughton Road’s car park as his favourite local greenspace.
- Lack of distinctions in questions: for example, my personal ease of access to parks and greenspaces is very different to that of someone with a physical disability. I’m aware of both contexts but can answer for only one.
- Clumsy assumptions: for example, no distinction between public toilets and private toilets nearby for which you have to pay or blag entry.
- There is very little opportunity to expand on responses at length afterwards. This may be a consultation, but its design favours questions over answers, broadcast over reception.
- It took longer – a lot longer – than the promised 10 minutes to complete thoughtfully.
2. Active commuting in Edinburgh
- This barely scratched the surface of cycling preferences. It seemed to amount to little more than ‘Would you like things to be better?’ and ‘If they were better, would you be likely to use them more?’
- It took substantially less than the predicted 5 minutes to complete.
3. Using quiet routes after dark
Could not get the ‘pen’ to draw on the map as required. Sliding the cursor simply moved the map. Abandoned 15-minute questionnaire after less than 1 minute.
Could do better
This is a disappointing start to what could have been a valuable process. Conceptually, it lacks detail and avoids mentioning the hippopotamus in the Portakabin: Council-sanctioned commercial exploitation of park space. Technically, given this user’s experience, Questionnaire 3 is not fit for purpose.
Have any readers had similar misgivings/problems? Please let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org