How Can Council Leader Claim That Survey Was Not Scientific

PUBLISHED: 14:41 01 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:13 04 May 2010

EAST Cambridgeshire District Council leader, Fred Brown, really should appear on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire more often as he was so entertaining last Thursday morning on the Jeremy Sallis Breakfast Show. I am intrigued as to how he can claim that the excell

EAST Cambridgeshire District Council leader, Fred Brown, really should appear on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire more often as he was so entertaining last Thursday morning on the Jeremy Sallis Breakfast Show. I am intrigued as to how he can claim that the excellent survey undertaken by Jane Howell was not "scientific". Presumably this was hearsay as he also claimed to have not read it. As someone employed in the marketing profession for more than 30 years, during which time I have conducted or managed countless market research projects, I can assure Cllr Brown that Jane Howell's methodology was perfectly scientific and valid. Jane Howell comes from an impeccable market research background, and her survey covered almost 100 per cent of the entire potential sample of the market traders on both the Thursday and Saturday markets, asked them straightforward, non-leading questions, and then presented objective analysis.

I was also rather puzzled to hear Cllr Brown say he was not sure of the exact cost to the council of providing stalls to the market traders. The 2010/11 budget proposals have been in preparation for many months, and are under discussion now. For our council leader, who was forewarned of the interview on the Breakfast Show, not to have the exact figures at his fingertips is surprising to say the least. At the council's Strategic Development Committee meeting, which I attended on January 19, the published costs for providing market stalls was £3,300 per year. Under intense questioning, it emerged that this was for maintenance and that there was a further £28,000 in "people costs." As £3,300 plus £28,000 does not add up to the £35-36,000 stated by Cllr Brown during the radio interview, one has to wonder where this new inflated figure comes from. He also failed to tell us how much revenue the market generates for the council.

It is clear from Jane Howell's survey, and from my own discussions with many of the market traders, that the non-provision of stalls will lead to loss of diversity on Ely market. It is simply not good enough to replace craft and collectibles stalls with general produce stalls as that will make the Saturday market a virtual clone of the general Thursday market. This will have an impact on the number of visitors to the market, and a fall in revenue not just for the market as a whole but for many local shops and tourist attractions as well.

BARBARA GRAFTON

Haddenham

By email.

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