Motion for more open and transparent consultations.

Lib Dems tabled this motion at council 20 July 2016.

I said this:

  • At the Local Plan examination, Inspector allowed a resident a seat at the table specifically because his consultation response had been lost.
  • The Housing Delivery Update Consultation has has many problems identified, For example, in the village of Radley, there were 550 letters of protest et they were counted as one objection, Consequently, the report state that there were 40 comments received concerning north Radley, rather than 590, and 45 concerning NW Radley rather than 595.
  • Something went wrong with the Abbey Meadow consultation.The public thought they were promised one thing, and the council thought it was something else.
  • In the consultation for the controversial Botley SPD, two responses were completely missed out: the response from Savilles (the developers agent); and the response from a consultant for West Way Concern, who pointed out questions of lawfulness that were later cause for the three month delay to reassess.
  • The LEP SEP refresh, as council just heard from Julie Mabberly and Annie Thomas.(Speakers from the public on the night.)

Debate included some heartfelt expressions of dismay from Tories about how much they hated to see young officers cut down when they try so hard. No one blames inexperienced officers. It’s the strategic decision makers who are responsible for these failures; the most inexperienced staff, or indeed temporary staff, are charged with logging consultation responses. I think no one senior ever reads them! Had any senior officer or member read the consultation response about serious questions of lawfulness, legal expenses incurred by the pubic and the council could have been avoided.

This motion passed.

From the new list of Cabinet members responsibilities, I can’t tell where consultations lie; it isn’t included in the Leader’s delegation list (which says a lot). I’ll see if I can find out.

Trying hard isn’t the most important thing here. It’s the senior managers and Cabinet members who must ensure the right level of staff are on the right jobs. If we are legally held to account for our decisions, it isn’t trying hard that’s the most important thing, but being effective and making the right decisions. This is a recurring theme of the Tories, that trying hard should be enough.

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Vale Lib Dems have tabled a motion to do more to hold fair, open and transparent consultations. Full council meeting 20 July is open to the public.

“This council resolves to manage our public consultations with openness and transparency, using industry best practice. Our public consultations will use open-ended questions that encourage a range of responses, and officers will produce consultation reports that highlight all major concerns raised and the actions to be taken in response. Where we have control of the consultation, we will ensure openness and transparency. Where we are part of a governing body managing the consultation, we will openly encourage openness and transparency.”