Tamworth council’s consultation process has once again come under fire after it was revealed that residents could vote an unrestricted amount of times on the aquatic proposal survey.
The proposal has been shrouded in controversy since the public became aware that council voted to sell off the two existing pools to fund a new facility before any consultation had begun.
Now, that consultation has been labelled “potentially invalid” by the Save the Pools committee, and numerous social media users, after it became obvious that people could vote an infinite number of times.
A survey available on the same council website in regards to Off Leash Dog Parks has an IP address restriction in place, meaning only one vote can come from each internet address.
After The Leader asked council about the legitimacy of the survey, a council spokesperson said it was “well aware of the attempts by some passionate members of the community to try and influence the survey”.
“The engagement platform that we are using allows us to easily track when the same IP address is being used, and when there are obvious attempts to skew the data,” the spokesperson said.
“That said, there are legitimate occasions when the same IP address might be used. It is not unreasonable that members of the same family might want to have their own voice but are using the same device.”
The Leader did enquire how many people could vote from the same address; and if several votes of different opinions did come from the same address which would be counted if it was deemed to be too many.
“Detailed analysis needs to be done on a range of factors to ensure we come away with the most accurate findings possible,” the spokesperson said.
“We may also have entries coming from locations such as libraries. It is also one of the key reasons we haven’t limited responses by IP address.”
Save the Pools spokesperson David McKinnon blasted council for a “lacklustre consultation process”.
“We have no objection to the aspiration by council to build a brand new regional aquatic facility but are asking that council conduct further consultation,” he said.
“We are particularly concerned that a survey can be completed multiple times by the same person. That means the survey may not be impartial and objective.
“The results of this survey are potentially invalid.”
However, the council spokesperson denied that, and went on to attack both The Leader and the Residents and Ratepayers Association who are behind Save The Pools.
“There is no shadow or question mark regarding the validity of our consultation process for a new aquatic and leisure centre,” they said.
“Despite continued attempts by the Northern Daily Leader to create sensational headlines, we have given the community numerous opportunities over the last 12 months to have their say on the future of aquatics.
“Both Northern Daily Leader and the Ratepayers Association would both be familiar with such a risk given both have conducted their own open surveys and published only top end results.”
The numerous surveys conducted by The Leader were conducted by Survey Monkey, a program that only allows one vote from each IP address.
“The future of aquatics, in whatever form it takes, will be a matter for debate at the last meeting of council on December 18. Interested members of the public are very welcome to attend,” the spokesperson said.
The Ratepayers Association urged anyone concerned about the consultation process to contact a councillor directly.
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