Oct 05 2014

Harrow Council Caught in Consultation Con

harrow_council_logoSome days, finding Harrow Council’s cock-ups is like shooting fish in a barrel. Here’s another good example.

The Council launches a consultation on a school expansion. The consultation, we’re told, runs from Monday 29th September to Friday 14th November. All good so far.

However, the consultation actually started on October 2nd at the end of the business day, although they have given residents answering online an extra 32 minutes to respond at the end:


So, for the purposes of counting, you can pretty much say that’s four days late in starting. It didn’t start on the 29th September: it started on 3rd October.

The consultation form itself comprises of six questions, or which one is about whether you agree with the proposal to expand. However, the next page then asks your age group, whether you’re disabled, whether you’re married, whether you’re in a civil partnership, whether you’re pregnant, what your ethnic origin is, what you religion is, what sex you are, whether you’ve had a sex change and whether you’re gay or not. What possible relevance do these have as to whether you want a school to get bigger next to you or not? Maybe the council is profiling residents – this particular survey doesn’t ask for a name and address, but others do. And it’s technically possible to link all responses a resident has made, by the use of website cookies, so even if you aren’t asked for your name and address, the council is technically able to link them together with your sexual preference, if you’ve answered enough questions.

The council says:

Harrow Council has a legal responsibility to promote and advance equality. To help us to do this, it is important that we have a good understanding of our communities, how our services are being accessed and who is using or would like to use our services. With up-to-date and accurate information we are able to:

  • Better understand our service users and residents and shape services to meet their specific needs
  • Identify and address any barriers or issues individuals may experience when accessing our services (including information about our services)
  • Make sure that our policies and services are accessible to everyone who uses them

The information will also enable us to monitor our progress in addressing inequality and allow our employees, service users and residents to see how we are performing on equality.


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1 comment

  1. PraxisReform

    The more cynical of us would say this is very much resident profiling (despite the Council having perfectly good anonymous information from the Census).

    Perhaps those with a view contrary to that of the Council – after identification – will find that their bins suddenly stop getting emptied, their council tax mysteriously gets moved up a band or some other bureaucratic “encouragement” to think the correct thoughts.

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