Figures puzzle

SIR, —- Herts County Councillor Stuart Pile s letter (Herts Advertiser, February 21) tells us that in a survey 18 months ago the percentage of people found to be happy with the condition of roads, pavements and cycle routes was minus nine. While I am read

SIR, -- Herts County Councillor Stuart Pile's letter (Herts Advertiser, February 21) tells us that in a survey 18 months ago the percentage of people found to be happy with the condition of roads, pavements and cycle routes was minus nine. While I am ready to believe that the figure was pretty low, the concept of a negative quantity in this context is new to me. Was it a misprint or does Cllr Pile think he knows what it means?

D.J. VELTOM,

Mayfield Close, Harpenden.

n Editor's note: You might well ask and in fact we did. These apparently are net satisfaction figures and are obtained by subtracting the number of dissatisfied people from the number of satisfied ones. It is a peculiar measurement and hides some interesting facts. For example in the latest survey the number of people very dissatisfied with the condition of the roads was considerably higher than the number very satisfied; the number very dissatisfied with the speed of repairs was double that of the number very satisfied.

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