Council’s budget consultation criticised

A COUNCILLOR has criticised Cornwall Council’s attempts to get residents to comment on its latest budget plans saying that its consultation was not geared towards people who work.

Andrew Long, Cornwall councillor for Callington, raised concerns at a meeting of the customer and support services overview and scrutiny committee. The committee had been told that the council launched its public consultation about its budget plans on September 28 and had set up a number of ways for people to comment.

Officers explained that an online survey set up by the council had been completed 340 times and that there was a hope that even more people will take part before it closes. The council has also been sending Cabinet members onto the streets of Cornwall and to community meetings to explain the budget, answer questions and listen to the views of residents.

However Cllr Long said all of the “informal chats” which had been set up by the council were taking place in town centres in the daytime during the week. The Mebyon Kernow councillor asked: “On Cornwall Council’s budget engagement process at one point might you want to talk to people who work?

“If you look at every single one of these events in town centres not one of them is at the weekend. How will people take time off work to engage with you? All of the dates are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

“Most people in this beautiful Duchy of ours work so when are you going to engage with them?” Cllr Long said it was a “council based consultation that suits officers, suits some councillors and doesn’t suit the general public”.

Deputy leader of the council, Julian German, responded saying: “For me, if I look at my diary I am out every evening in any case. It is difficult for me as an individual, there is only one of me.”

He added: “We have got the internet, website, Facebook, Twitter, all these ways that the public can tell us what they think.

“I am sure that your residents will be telling you what they think as well. “We can always do more, I don’t deny that, but we need capacity to do that. As an individual I am out every night until Christmas with different meetings.”

Councillor Paul Wills said he had noticed that the informal meetings with the public in Hayle and Truro had both taken place outside Marks & Spencer stores and suggested the council would only meet certain members of the public in those locations.

Cllr German explained that he had also held events in Morrison’s and in other town centre locations. He also added that Primark in Truro had not allowed the council to set up an event outside its store.

What’s your view? Do organisations attempt to manipulate consultation responses by manipulating their approach to public consultation? Have your say and let us know your thoughts by emailing The Consultation Movement at: theconsultationmovement@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Wednesday 24 October 2018 in the Falmouth Packet. The Consultation Movement cannot confirm the accuracy of this story or confirm that it presents a balanced view. If you feel this is inaccurate we would welcome your perspective and evidence that this is the case.

 

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