Louise Calland is a Conservative councillor in Wandsworth and a cyclist. She’s also the Tories’ candidate for the Merton & Wandsworth London Assembly seat, which Labour’s Leonie Cooper gained from the Tories in 2016 by a tight margin. Yesterday, Calland published a short video seeking Wandsworth residents’ views about cycle storage and a “cycle survey” questionnaire, which, along with the video, appears on her Merton & Wandsworth campaign site. There’s more to this questionnaire than at least some of those who’ve looked at it expected. One On London reader thinks it “outrageous”.
The first page contains five questions which, as you might expect, are about riding bicycles and storing them. Then, page two contains two questions described as helping to “make this questionnaire representative”. They are a bit surprising. The first asks respondents which party they voted for in the 2017 general election. The second invites them to reveal to Candidate Calland how they might vote at the next one, rating their enthusiasm for different parties on a scale of one to ten. The final page requests people’s names, email addresses, postcodes and (optionally) their phone number. There’s also a box to check should you wish to “receive email newsletter updates”.
Calland talks about her survey in the context of Wandsworth’s environment strategy and her video is headed “Wandsworth Cycle Consultation”. It is not sanctioned by the council, but an individual initiative. It has prompted a healthy response on Twitter, including several appreciative replies. But a few are rather critical. Unsurprisingly, these include observations by two of Wandsworth’s Labour councillors. Jo Rigby has pointed out that the questions about past and future voting don’t include a “won’t say” option. She thinks this gives the impression that the rest of the cycle survey answers – the ones about cycling – won’t be counted unless the political affiliation ones are answered too. Not so, Calland replied. But Rigby’s colleague Aydin Dikerdem remained scathing: “This is just a data mining exercise for her GLA Assembly member bid.”
Whatever your view of Calland’s survey, it appears to reveal that the battle for Merton & Wandsworth next year is going to be closely fought.
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