Rather than focusing on actual consultation results, CAMRA’s preliminary report on its revitalisation consultation pays more attention to how the rest of the process has been reengineered. The related communications only reinforce my concerns about the lack of transparency over the consultation process.
According to the update message from Michael Hardman:
- “24,000 members have responded to (…) the survey” including “5,000 paper returns”;
- “over a thousand non-members complet[ed] [the] survey online” and
- “hundreds more have made their views known at the first 10 of more than 50 consultation meetings”.
The preliminary report on the website though
- shows a chart which “represents responses from 16,000 CAMRA members who have completed the online survey” and
- mentions “more than 6,000 paper responses” which are still to be processed.
I find it important to note that it is unfortunate that the numbers used in CAMRA’s communications are inconsistent – this may cause confusion or suspicion of error in the calculations.
Still, the aforementioned chart shows that representation of drinkers of real ale, cider and perry is preferred by most (31%) and sticking to real ale is third (19%) a few per cents behind all pub-goers (23%). These results still closely reflect CAMRA’s actual and practical priorities. Real ale is explicit and exclusive for 50%.
The news piece on CAMRA’s website states that the data from the analysis of the free-text responses (…), including the details of “other” preference (8%) will be used to “refine forthcoming consultation meetings and additional surveys to help them put together and test proposals (…).” (highlights by the author.) Furthermore, the update message suggests “seeking views of external stakeholders, including politicians, pub and brewery owners and beer writers (…)”.
I can’t help noticing that these steps have just been added to the consultation procedure outlined in the booklet. But this is not the only change to the consultation: “we’ll leave [the initial survey] open until we design further surveys to test options.”
I am afraid that these changes can undermine the credibility of the entire process and the publication of such preliminary results had been unforeseen and was unnecessary. You might wonder what CAMRA’s purpose was with these actions… At least, there is more clarity on what basis the proposals will be made ( or how any unexpected proposal will be explained): “We need to make sure that any proposals we present do not ignore the opinions expressed by sizeable minorities within the organisation.”