FORMS are dropping through letterboxes right across the town as the 2011 Census gets underway.
This nationwide population survey has been held every decade since 1801 pausing only during the Second World War.
Costs for the current Census are estimated at around the £500m mark. It’s perhaps why the government is said to be looking at different ways of measuring population and other statistics.
Every home in England and Wales will get a form and be asked to fill in details about nationality, religious faith and marital status. Those who refuse can be fined £1,000.
The Census is viewed by some as crucial to enable central and local Government, health authorities and many other organisations to target their resources.
How would you plan hospitals, schools, homes and roads they say without having detailed knowledge of health, education, housing and transport needs?
But, in this technological era, are there better, quicker, more economic and more reliable methods of defining the shape and composition of our incredibly fluid population?
There is an argument which says that allocating resources on the basis of a Census which surely dates almost as fast as the forms are filled in is no longer appropriate.
Change may lie ahead, but whatever the future holds for surveying the population, one thing must be guaranteed. Any new form of Census must be as secure as the current one from which there has been no leak of information. In this electronic age, that might be a difficult record to maintain.