Most asked: Tanya Hibberd, Performance & Research Lead

September 5, 2017

Send us your questions about a particular area of work in the National Park to

Answering this month is: Tanya Hibberd, Performance & Research Lead

What does a Performance and Research Lead do?
I’m responsible for identifying the research priorities for the National Park and working with universities and students to set up projects and funding bids to address the identified research priorities. I am also responsible for monitoring performance information for the Partnership Management Plan and Corporate Plan. I am currently setting up a citizens panel for the National Park in order to gather information from local residents that will benefit the National Park and the work of the National Park Authority, and ultimately those who live, work and visit this beautiful place.

What is a citizens panel?
A citizens panel is a group of people recruited and surveyed to gain more understanding about peoples’ perceptions. In our case we want to develop a panel of two thousand people living in, or close to, the South Downs to find out how and why they engage with the National Park and whether our work is having an impact on, or benefit to, them. They may be people who aren’t even aware that the South Downs National Park exists. Our plan is to carry out surveys with the panel twice a year but also to invite them to sit on smaller groups to test specific work or projects. We’re using a company called ICM Direct to recruit our members and hope to have them all in place by 2 October 2017.

Why do you need a citizens panel?
As the UK’s newest National Park (seven years old last March), we want to know how we can best influence attitudes to, and behaviour towards, the National Park and how these change over time. There are still many people who don’t know the National Park exists, don’t get out and benefit from it, or may not treat the landscapes with respect – e.g. not picking up dog mess or following the countryside code.

Our citizens panel will help us carry out a rolling research programme to test before and after campaigns and improve the way we do things and should be more robust and cost effective than just carrying out surveys.

Why can’t I put myself forward to sit on the panel?
We want the evidence generated by the panel to be robust and reflect the populations’ actual thoughts and behaviours. For this we need a random selection of people who are as representative as possible, but people who put themselves forward might be more likely to have pre-conceived ideas or come with a specific agenda.

Why have I been contacted – how did you select me?
Because we want our survey to be regionally representative, ICM Direct are using randomly generated phone numbers using a widely used method called Random Digit Dialling. This means they take a ‘seed’ number, that isn’t called, and change the last digit to create a new number.

For example they might start with the number 020 7428 7870 and then change the final digit to then call 020 7428 7871 etc. Because these numbers are generated randomly ICM Direct hold no personal information. Until they call these numbers ICM Direct do not know if they exist as live telephone numbers.

This approach can mean that numbers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and ex-directory numbers are called. Market research calls, such as these by ICM Direct, are exempt from TPS guidelines because they are not classified as sales or marketing. This is stated in the letter you will have received from TPS when you registered your numbers with the service and is clarified on the TPS website (point 17 on their FAQs)

We appreciate that this can be a concern and if you do not want to receive these calls please let the caller know immediately that you want your details removed from their call lists. You will then be included on ICM Direct’s telephone exclusion list. Those who request not to be called by ICM Direct are added to this list and screened against it for every single project they run – both current and in the future – so you should never be called again by ICM Direct for any market research project.

Why no apostrophe in citizens panel?
I know I’m going to get asked this a lot! It’s not a mistake. This is a panel made up of citizens, not a panel belonging to citizens. But spell check is going to hate that.