Over the last year I have been running a constant feedback survey on my website. People have been able to rate my performance and to leave me feedback on how well I've done as their local Councillor.
1 year into the job, I'm publishing the feedback. I promised I would.
Feedback has been anonymised and I've put the raw data available for download below. In total, 92 residents have replied. I have not filtered out any replies, the abusive ones are there just as the sycophantic ones are.
Because I care about transparency and I want people to see that I take every piece of feedback on board. Echo chambers suck.
If you want to give feedback, I'll be keeping the survey open permanently. You can fill it in by clicking on the link below.
? / 10
I asked people how they would rate my performance as a councillor. This was done on a basic 0-10 scale.
The average score is 6.09. So not too bad and not great.
12 people gave me a big fat 0. I was tempted to remove these, as well as those rating me 10. Mostly because those rating me 0 gave feedback such as "Because you're a Tory" or "you're a prat". It's not the most useful feedback.
However, it's important I don't ignore such responses. More on that in a bit.
At the other end of the scale, 26 people gave me 10/10.
33 people gave me a score that was between 3-8. I pick that range as it's often viewed as the most genuine feedback. It strips out those who'd vote for a cat with a blue rosette and those who wouldn't thank you if you cured cancer. So, about 1/3 of people fall into the more average range.
I seem to divide opinion quite strongly. You'll see that this is a recurring theme.
Why the score?
Let's start with a good old word cloud here. What are most people saying?
It seems Facebook is one of the main drivers of people's ratings. This is mostly used in the negative responses. Which should tell me something about how people react to my posts.
Other stand out words include residents, Romford, Actually, issues... One not uncommon theme in the comments is that I get on with things. Which is exactly the sort of impression I'd want to give.
Actions speak louder than words!
Here's a few bits of feedback from across the points spectrum.
0/10 - Very antagonistic and condescending on social media platforms
3/10 - Not a team player. Seems to be me me me, rather than actually working for the benefit of residents and political group
5/10 - You're a bit of a flag shagger
7/10 - Communications
10/10 - You are visible and approachable, you are transparent with your work and earnings, and seem thoroughly committed to your position as Councillor and want the best for the residents of Romford. Well done keep up the good work! I would suggest that your fellow ward councilors should follow your lead.
You can view all of the feedback in the download at the bottom of this page.
What can I do better on?
This is, perhaps, the most important part of the survey. It's a chance for me to see how I need to change in order to win people over.
The feedback is brutally honest. A common theme, again, is my social media. Some people feel that I post too much, that I'm too attacking, that I love to argue... At the other end, some people love that I'm so visible and transparent.
Again, visibility and transparency are the sort of traits I'd like to be known for. Not for being argumentative. I'll get to that later.
Other bits of feedback, on what I can do better on include;
"ULEZ.. you should be working against this, it is just another tax on the motorist which will hurt the pensioner and lower paid workers"
"He could distance himself from the local Conservative party and become an independent."
"I think he is trying his best and no doubt there are those who would criticise but like previously stated our MP is ineffective and have no intention of voting for him again."
"I think he already plays a very active part in his personal obligations to his role as councillor."
There is a lot to learn about being a councillor but he's made a great start.
Would I win an election tomorrow?
Every politician has this thought in the back of their minds, at all times. And so they should. We're elected to represent people and, if people don't think we're doing that, they won't back us.
Losing an election is a sign that you lost the people's trust.
I asked people if they'd vote for me in an election, tomorrow, if they could.
Of the 97 replies, 47 said YES.
32 said NO. 10 were UNSURE. A few didn't reply.
This is OK. It means I would win an election, if it was held tomorrow. But, that's 11% who are yet to decide and 36% I need to win over!
What have I learned?
Well this is the point of the survey and the point in publishing it, so you can see if I am taking things on board.
My social media is clearly a bit part of why people do and don't vote for me. I'm very active on it and have made a conscious effort to grow it.
Part of this is because I'm totally new to the role of being a councillor and to local politics. I'm the only new Conservative in Havering and I've got a lot of catching up to do in terms of people knowing who I am. Entering into the role, in opposition, means I lack the tools that those in the HRA or Labour do. I have my voice and my voice only.
Traditionally, Conservatives are very poor at social media. Especially locally.
Social media isn't the real world and you don't win elections with it. That takes hard work and meeting people face to face. But, it's a way in which one can show that they are active and engage with residents.
I fully appreciate that I can come across as combative and argumentative. Which actually saddens me. I don't like confrontation and I don't like being disliked. However, I feel that there are some battles which, if not fought now whilst small, I'll have to face when they are larger. So my combativeness is mostly avoidance.
Many residents are also upset at the way I respond to residents. I push back, I'm sometimes sarcastic, and I challenge people. It's not always a good thing.
Politicians face a lot of abuse, in public and online. That's wrong. What I also think is wrong is that politicians are expected to just listen and to not speak back. If someone calls me a racist, I'm going to push back. If someone if going to misquote me, get the facts wrong, or just plain insult me, I'll speak back.
Imagine you're new to my social media and you see me post about being against-ULEZ. You then read a comment from a resident which says "You support ULEZ, you voted for a Climate Emergency". You'd think I was a liar. So, by replying to people I am able to put the record straight. Social media is a conversation, not the stocks where one just has to sit and take whatever is thrown at them.
I need to work on my tone. The sarcasm doesn't help.
I'm too critical
There's so much, from the last year, that has shocked and surprised me.
I went into things fairly hopeful that the new Administration were there to genuinely serve residents and to listen to them. They spent a lot of time telling us how Conservatives were crooked, for themselves, making mistakes or morally flawed. Of course, I don't thing those things are true. But, I did hope it meant we'd see the HRA and Labour make an extra effort in that area.
I feel bitterly let down. When one stands to speak in the chamber, one can see every councillor's facial reactions. Seeing grown men, old enough to be my dad, screw up their faces in exaggerated and childish contortions makes me worry for the state of politics. I have lost a bit of that hope that I first entered with.
Why say this? It means I've decided I'm not going to hold back in the scrutiny. It became clear to me, very early on, that there wasn't going to be this promised cross-party consensus. I wasn't going to get the transparency I wanted from whispering into someone's ear quietly.
So, I call out what I see. I am relentless in pursuit of the truth and facts. Look at the parking permit scandal. I didn't just post about it, I relentlessly sought out the evidence and built my case. I put public pressure on the administration and they did a u-turn. This campaign saved the people of Romford £250k.
I do need to post more positive, or neutral posts though. I have made an effort to praise the administration where it does well. My opening speech spoke highly of them, as did my budget response. But, every negative needs two positives to balance things out. My positivity is drowned out by my criticism.
People value transparency.
One of the most frustrating things I hear, often, is "you don't sound like a Conservative". This is usually said in relation to my approach to expenses or to some of my more liberal social values.
It upsets me because Conservatives should be the most transparent. At the very core of conservatism is the belief that the state serves the people and that we must aim to be as efficient as we can. It's taxpayer's money. Publishing payslips should be a given, yet still some politicos argue it's just a stunt. Telling you all what I'm doing, such as with videos of my speeches or presenting my attendance records, shouldn't be seen as a novel idea.
From the feedback, I believe it's clear people value my transparency and visibility. When we reach elections I don't want anyone to say "David Taylor, never heard of him. He only shows his face at election time". Which we hear about every politician all the time.
I want people to say "David, he's the Cllr that's always in the press. I don't know when he has time to sleep".
During the elections I made 5 promises. How did I do at keeping them?
Publish all my expenses. - Done.
In person surgeries - Fail. I've only held one of these. That's poor.
Publish meeting summaries. - Done. I publish the transcripts of all my speeches and write up summaries of key meetings. You have a permanent record of what I've said!
Walk the ward - Done. There isn't a day go by that I'm not walking around St Edward's. I do it in my lunch break and often in evenings. I need to focus more on the Gidea Park end though.
Regular surveys. Done. I have conducted 8 surveys since being elected. These include my performance survey, surveys on bin collections, and even a survey on who I should back in the Leadership elections. There are plenty more to come.
I'm proud of my first year as a Councillor. I think I've hit the ground running, under some very difficult circumstances. Often I've felt quite alone and having to fend for myself. However, I have been supported by a brilliant set of colleagues who have made it possible for me to do what I do.
I'm not going to slow down. I won't stop my campaigning. I won't grow weary.
if you've not yet given feedback, or you'd like to give new feedback, please fill in my survey.