The chorus of popular survey reports lamenting the decline of neighbouring continues to swell and boom. I don’t scour for them systematically, but I have at least half a dozen per year from the last few years. What I most long for is the moment when one of my neighbours rushes in to tell me about new survey results they've just found, showing that X per cent of neighbours share information with each other.
Today’s survey results come from the Ordnance Survey, although since there’s nothing about it on their website thus far, I can’t tell you what they think it shows, nor why they had it carried out.
Here are the headlines:
- 35% of those surveyed do not know their neighbours’ names
- 29% said lack of community spirit and anti-behaviour (sic) were the two biggest problems in their neighbourhood
- 17% of parents in the study stated they never let their children play outside
- 11% said they rarely or never visit their high street
- 25% said a community forum where they could air their concerns would help tackle community issues, whilst 29% claimed that a source of local information would help tackle community issues.
As always, it’s hard to comment without seeing the questions, especially on the first two of these points (all neighbours’ names? Any neighbours’ names? Some neighbours’ names?). Perhaps they will be made available in due course.
I promise to do an extended update of my previous review of popular surveys, because I do think there are things we might learn from them.
A related but separate phenomenon to examine is the media-political obsession with telling us how we are no longer neighbourly, and we all were, unfailingly, in the past of course. They chant the mantras, hoping to light upon some magic combination that will cure all social ills.
My thanks to the dependable Chris Gittins of Streets Alive who offered some commonsense observations when interviewed about the issues on BBC Breakfast this morning.