Friday, January 25, 2013

That’s me done on consultation.

From Camberwell Online Blog
Hmm Gabe, now you mention it, if I were a lot less focused on the pub sector I’d seriously consider that Phd!

None of this consultation issue is in any way particularly bound up with party politics.

Consultation is an immutable defensive process that subsumes party politics. It’s predicated on an expectation that it will stir up problems, delay, generate fuzzy outcomes, blow budget, terms in office, legacies. Under the cerebral cortex of the Local Authority’s public position, from desk officer to top dog, no one really wants Consultation to work by getting EVERYONE involved because it’s so obvious that consulting absolutely everyone will make the whole process grind to a standstill. Nightmare they think. Nightmare so they just press ahead with a process that doesn’t work but at least it gets to the end of the process.
This is stuck in a status quo. What’s monolithically problematic about The Consultation Process is that it’s deeply flawed but convention demands that this is the way it is done and that the results are representative of a broad spectrum of views. Therefore it is not deeply flawed. It’s a circular, embedded process. It may not be intentional or Machiavellian but it IS exclusive. And it makes the local authority look in because looking out is fraught with irritating things like questions about consultation that won’t go away.
Burgess Park? Without raking over the past BP is a good example. People who live ON Burgess park and opposite Burgess Park, one of them a horticulturist and landscaper who’s used the park daily for twenty years, did not see a brochure, letter, questionnaire, email, phone call or invitation to an exhibition on consultation without having to go out and search for them — over a period of years.
Bring this up at Southwark at the highest level? Just gets brushed off. Pooh poohed with a wave of the hand and an ‘of course they knew about it, the consultation works, they’re just tree huggers, moaners, you get them everywhere’.
That’s not good. It’s bad. And it’s wrong. And it pisses off lots and lots of people. Especially the ones who point out the flaws objectively and then are instantly dismissed as well. Those who aren't particularly pissed off, aren't pissed off anymore because they've been worn down by attrition.
Neither end of this discussion are telling porkies. They both are right. One lot had not been consulted and the other lot believed they had been. They each have the conviction that they are right. And here the people who should have been talked to were vicariously insulted by the very people they actually voted for. The politicians dismiss the concerns and critics with a clear conscience because they believe, from the bottom of their world view, that they HAVE consulted — the circular process proves it. Even though, manifestly if they could be brave enough to look out, it does not.
Bottom line is most people don’t get asked and don’t get their views heard — and a prevailing embedded attitude like ‘we’d never get anything done’ is what drives this flawed status quo and this is part of what alienates voters.
By default the views of most people are considered irrelevant. If they were considered relevant the process would be reviewed, made less convoluted and more down to earth.
IF consultation were treated more responsibly and employed more effectively it would throw out better, more financially efficient outcomes that provide better targeted public amenities and facilities, leading to improved community cohesion and faster, more appropriate development and regeneration.
That’s me done on consultation.

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