Tuesday, 10 September 2013

An entanglement of red tape

I have in the fairly recent past - by which I mean within the last month or so - taken part in a survey for the City Council.  I may even have mentioned it elsewhere on this blog.  It was about a proposal to extend the city-centre speed limit (20 mph) out to pretty well all of the city.  They (by which I mean the council officials in charge of the proposal and survey) had divided the city into several sections and residents in each section were asked to indicate their views.  Survey forms were delivered to each house, along with reply-paid envelopes, so goodness knows how much the exercise cost.  Not that the cost is the reason for today's rant.  Nor even is the proposal to reduce the speed limit.

[Perhaps, though, I could add that I replied saying what a nonsense the whole idea is.  One of the reasons behind the proposal is to make the roads safer.  I suggested reducing the speed limit even further - to 4 mph - and having a man with a red flag walk in front of each vehicle.  I doubt that my sarcasm will have been well received.]

What really irritated me - apart from the fact that the proposal will almost certainly be put into practice regardless of the result of the several surveys - were the supplementary questions. 
At the end of the survey come what are called "Equalities Monitoring Questions".  These read:
  • What age are you in years?
  • What gender are you?  (Male, female, other, prefer not to say)
  • Do you identify as the gender you were assigned at birth? For people who are transgender, the gender they were assigned at birth is not the same as their own sense of their gender.
  • How would you describe your ethnic origin? followed by 18 options plus "prefer not to say" (pnts)
  • Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation? followed by 5 options plus "pnts" 
  • What is your religion or belief? followed by 13 options plus ptns
  • Are your day-to-day activities limited because of a health problem or disability which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months?
  • Are you a carer?
  • Are you currently serving in the UK Armed Forces?
  • Have you ever served in the UK Armed Forces?
  • Are you a member of a current or former serviceman or woman's immediate family/household?
What does it matter what answers people give to those questions?  What do they have to do with the proposal?  What does equality monitoring achieve?

I answered "prefer not to say" to each of the questions, but I rather chuckled when somebody told me he just ticked any box at random.

There will be another red tape rant soon - I'm just deliberating how to answer the complicated questions in another "consultation".

Meanwhile, as the shadows grew eastwards on Saturday, the farmer was clearing the straw up on the Downs.


Buck said...

We haven't QUITE reached the point of intrusiveness and silliness that your council has achieved with its "equality questions," but we're on our way.

I'm amazed at those queries, seriously. I like the guy who checked boxes at random... if everyone did that there would be a whole lot of confusion on the part of the poobahs. Wait. That prolly isn't a GOOD thing. ;-)

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

If everyone checked the boxes at random, we probably would all be equal (in our own minds).

I'm not sure what method is used to set speed limits here (in Anderson).
It doesn't matter, though, because almost nobody pays obeys them and they get irritated at those who do.

Brighton Pensioner said...

Buck, there is already "a whole lot of confusion on the part of the poobahs"!

And Skip, this is/was only a consultation. Doesn't mean squat when it comes to making a decision (which has probably been made already anyway)