Maybe I’ve missed something, but the last time I looked in the OED (that would be today) the word local meant:

Belonging to a town or some comparatively small district, as distinct from the state or country as a whole.

while local government meant:

the administration of the affairs of a town (or other limited area) by its inhabitants, as distinguished from such administration by the state at large.

Seems straightforward enough doesn’t it?

And yet judging from the survey posted on her website, it would appear that my MP, Chloe Smith, has a completely different definition of local from the one everyone else uses.

Smith’s survey, which seeks to fulfil point 9 of her published contract with the constituents of Norwich North:

9. I will organise an annual survey of local people on the performance of our local councils to hold them to account on the services they provide, such as recycling, bus services, road maintenance and housing.

and which was launched on her site thus:

“Chloe Smith, Member of Parliament for Norwich North, will tomorrow launch a consultation on local government services. As part of this consultation, Chloe is asking residents of the Norwich North constituency to go to http://www.tellchloe.com and fill out a short survey. The questions ask for opinions on a range of different local services and are designed to find out how well local councils are performing.”

starts out well enough, asking constituents which local services are important to them, and what improvements to local services they think could be made.

But then it all goes a bit weird.

Here’s the list of questions from Smith’s “Local Government Survey”

1. What local services are important to you?

2. What specific improvements could be made to these local services?

3. What would you change about your area if you had one chance?

4. What would you change about Britain if you had one chance?

5. The UK is in the worst recession since records began, with the largest budget deficit in the developed world. What do you think is the most important thing for government to do to get the country out of the economic crisis?

6. In order to ensure balance in the survey, it would be helpful to know which Party you last voted for.

7. If there was a General Election tomorrow, which Party would you support?

8. Are there any other issues you would like to raise?

Ermm, yes there are Chloe. I thought this was a survey about local services and local councils, you know, the ones in this area (or to be more accurate, the ones in this LOCALity), so why on earth are you asking for people’s views on Britain, and the economic crisis? What’s any of that got to do with how Norfolk County Council is meeting the needs of its residents? And how are the answers to questions 4, 5, 6 or 7 going to help you “find out how well local councils are performing?” or help inform you about the effectiveness or otherwise of the various councils’ recycling, bus, road maintenance or housing services?

And finally, how can you call it a “Sixty Second Survey” and then ask such huge bloody questions!


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