COUNTY residents will be asked to take part in a survey every two years as East Lothian Council looks at reducing its Citizens Panel to an online forum.

The council said its last two residents’ surveys – which see thousands of people interviewed for their opinions on a range of questions about living in the county – were taken in 2011 and 2017.

However, it said that given the increasing reliance on the outcome of the surveys by its decision-makers, it was felt more regular feedback should be sought.

The move could see the less extensive Citizens Panel, where volunteers are sent surveys every few months and invited to take part in workshops and focus groups, become an online-only group, cutting its annual £12,000 cost.

A report by Sharon Saunders, head of communities and partnerships, said the East Lothian Partnership Governance Group, which includes NHS Lothian, Police Scotland and other partner agencies alongside the council, had approved biennial surveys.

The report said: “Moving to a biennial residents’ survey will reduce the reliance on the Citizens Panel. Therefore the use and format of the Citizens Panel will be reviewed, possibly moving to it being an online-only survey, which will reduce the costs and allow for more frequent and shorter surveys to be carried out.

“Although online-only surveys will be less statistically reliable they can provide useful indications of public perceptions and views.”

The findings of the 2017 survey helped the council draw up its 10-year plan, which runs to 2027, but the report said ensuring the information gathered was up to date required more frequent surveys.

The biennial survey will target 1,600 households, with the next one after 2019 planned for 2021.