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Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Pointing out the obvious: Consultation doesn't work
A report which points out the obvious but is extremely welcome to my ears, is out today from Planning Aid. It concludes that 'traditional forms of engaging local people will fail to win the trust of disadvantaged communities facing major change'.

Well, I could have told you that, but I'm glad to have an authoritative source to back up what we know through practical experience. This report follows a two-year study, the largest of its kind, by South East Planning Aid which focused on engaging the 200,000-strong community across Kent Thameside.

It says that authorities must go the "extra mile" to make involvement interesting, relevant and meaningful and that many communities do not know the planning system and do not have the confidence or capacity to take part. It also (thank goodness!) stresses the long-term aspect of public engagement, saying that several years are needed to achieve lasting results.

We see every day how 'consultation' ends up being a one-way, zero-sum management procedure and how local communities are way too smart to be fooled by the PR guys or even the happy-red-shoes 'consultation experts' and their post-it-note boards, when it becomes clear that nothing changes as a result. I just wish that Planning Aid would be even more forthright in its language and tell it like it is; that this appoach is worse than no effort at all, actively damaging relationships between communities and decisionmakers, contributing to the apathy and cynicism surrounding all structured political relationships.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Rob said...

Can you point me to it? I wan't to check I'm not a happy-red-shoes...

8:41 pm  
Anonymous Rob said...

Eek. Apologies for the extravagant use of apostrophes. I'v'e n'o i'dea w'hat happene'd.

8:43 pm  
Blogger HL said...

The report is meant to be on the Planning Aid website but I couldn't find it. I was going to ring them tomorrow - if I get anywhere I'll post it up and let you know.

11:06 pm  

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