Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 13, 2016

People Who Live In Glass Houses?

The Champion newspaper championlogo reports that the West Lancs Council’s decision to hold the consultation on proposed savings of £750,000 in the General Revenue Budget during the school summer holidays has been criticised by Councillor Adrian Owens. Residents are being given the chance to have a say on the proposals, which include introducing a controversial annual charge of £30 to collect green waste.

But Derby ward Our West Lancashire representative Cllr Owens, in a typical “carry on councillor” quote, claimed the authority was not really interested in the views of the public as it was holding the consultation at a time when many people will be on holiday and would not know about it. Cllr Owens said “The council have arranged the consultation to coincide almost exactly with the school summer holidays. Many people will miss press coverage of this important survey of resident opinion on the proposed budget cuts. Indeed, the council are giving themselves more time to collate the consultation results of the survey than they are giving the public to respond in the first place”.

In response, a spokesman for the council stated “This timetable is similar to the policy options/MSR consultations carried out in summer 2012 (July 27 to September 14) and 2013 (July 23-September 11)”.

I can give the public yet another example, with far worse repercussions for residents. This relates to “Special Cabinet: 15 December 2010 Relevant Portfolio Holder: Councillor D Westley: Subject: Concessionary Travel.

“That Members agree the proposals for consultation as set out in paragraph 7 of the report in relation to the options identified at paragraph 6.1 of the report. In this regard it is suggested that the Council undertake a written consultation, writing both directly to a number of key stakeholders and making available over the website a questionnaire for completion with a view to seeking views on any potential impact that stakeholders feel there may be in relation to the options identified above, and how any such negative impacts might be ameliorated. It is suggested that this consultation be carried out between mid-December and late January in order to enable officers to report this consultation, together with any proposals for the future, to Council at its meeting on 23rd February 2011. Three quotations have been sought in relation to the consultation process exercise, and the lowest quotation has been selected (the LCC in house team) who will deliver the consultation in liaison with Officers subject to Council`s decision”.

This was the consultation and proposal that led to the start of social exclusion of elderly and disabled residents. Concessionary travel for these most vulnerable of all in our communities was vital but not to those “caring Conservatives”. And how many consultation weeks were lost with Christmas and New Year? To re-quote Cllr Owens, he and his then colleagues were “giving themselves more time to collate the consultation results of the survey than they are giving the public to respond in the first place”. Quite!


Responses

  1. Your maths is a little out on your last point I think, but I agree the consultation period should have been longer. Why though is the council running a shorter consultation this summer than in 2012 or 2013 – is it because they want to reduce the number of responses?

    • Perhaps so. And who knows why the council is running a shorter consultation especially because we all know what will happen. I can’t think of a consultation that made a difference, it’s an illusion that we think we can affect consultation outcomes.


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