Council plans to look at improving consultations welcomed

This Is Wiltshire: Better Swindon chairman Chris Barry Better Swindon chairman Chris Barry

A PRESSURE group has welcomed plans to introduce a new consultation policy for the council which will give clearer guidance and possibly ease voter frustration.

A proposal is set to go before the Cabinet on Wednesday outlining how the council carries out future consultations.

BetterSwindon, a group of residents looking to hold the democratic system to account, had said making sure consultations were more democratic was one of their key aims, when they formed last month.

The group’s chair, Chris Barry, believes if this proposal is fully adopted, it will benefit the whole town.

He said: “I think it’s absolutely fantastic. It will hopefully mean when more consultations are held people will feel as though they are being listened to.

“At the moment there is a perception that a decision is made regardless of what is the outcome of any consultation.

“If this is adopted this will give people belief that they have a greater say in their community.”

The proposed document sets out 10 principles by which all council-led consultations will be run in the future.

It includes the aim that all future consultations should have clear aims and objectives which involve looking at including as many people in the process as possible.

There is also a commitment to give all consultations a timeframe, with Swindon Council choosing a minimum length of four weeks.

An important part is the principle to provide feedback to people and groups who have taken part in the process as well as publicising the results.

BetterSwindon were spoken with a number of times by councillors and council officers in recent months to help develop the policy.

Chris said: “The meetings we had showed that there was a positive feeling among those in the council that possibly something did need to be done.

“This is not something put forward specifically by any of the parties in particular as there was agreement on both sides.

“It is an important document and what we now hope is that it is taken on by the council and then it can offer the guidance at future consultations. A lot of people we have spoken with have a sense of frustration at many of the processes so perhaps this can be a small step at improving this.”

The policy will go before Cabinet on Wednesday when members will be recommended to adopt it.”

Comments (16)

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8:26am Mon 3 Feb 14

house on the hill says...

But who are the "group of residents" and what is their agenda? Good idea in principal but in reality it always comes down to who is in the group and why they are there.
But who are the "group of residents" and what is their agenda? Good idea in principal but in reality it always comes down to who is in the group and why they are there. house on the hill

9:20am Mon 3 Feb 14

Grimwald says...

It remains to be seen if this group can actually deliver change,

How many candidates are they fielding in the local elections, because change can only happen from within or they will just remain a 'pressure group' which can be ignored?

I wish them well, but do not know what they can achieve?
It remains to be seen if this group can actually deliver change, How many candidates are they fielding in the local elections, because change can only happen from within or they will just remain a 'pressure group' which can be ignored? I wish them well, but do not know what they can achieve? Grimwald

9:56am Mon 3 Feb 14

1 2 Could B says...

There is a proverb
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it"

Where SBC are concerned, it IS broke and somebody (anybody) has to attempt to fix it
There is a proverb "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" Where SBC are concerned, it IS broke and somebody (anybody) has to attempt to fix it 1 2 Could B

11:33am Mon 3 Feb 14

ChannelX says...

People have the chance to vote out members of the council they do not agree with or would rather see changed.

There was an all-out local election not so long ago, everyone of voting age had their opportunity to vote for whichever candidate they preferred.

Just because those who won may not have been a given individual's choice and just because decisions made by those councillors and the council may not suit a given individual's preferences does not mean things are 'broken'.

The big problem with 'pressure groups' is that they generally tend to simply rail against anything the sitting governing body does. This results in them looking like a secondary opposition group which, by definition, has the support of less voters and is, therefore (and quite ironically), effectively opposing the very democracy they claim to be supporting.

The only way to ensure TRUE democracy at local level is to move to the proposition system for significant decision making.
People have the chance to vote out members of the council they do not agree with or would rather see changed. There was an all-out local election not so long ago, everyone of voting age had their opportunity to vote for whichever candidate they preferred. Just because those who won may not have been a given individual's choice and just because decisions made by those councillors and the council may not suit a given individual's preferences does not mean things are 'broken'. The big problem with 'pressure groups' is that they generally tend to simply rail against anything the sitting governing body does. This results in them looking like a secondary opposition group which, by definition, has the support of less voters and is, therefore (and quite ironically), effectively opposing the very democracy they claim to be supporting. The only way to ensure TRUE democracy at local level is to move to the proposition system for significant decision making. ChannelX

12:29pm Mon 3 Feb 14

Robh says...

Consultations give you the idea that you may have a say in the outcome but so often are the officers spend most of time giving their reasoning behind what is going to happen. They leave little time for comment and poo hoo every objection put forward.
Consultations give you the idea that you may have a say in the outcome but so often are the officers spend most of time giving their reasoning behind what is going to happen. They leave little time for comment and poo hoo every objection put forward. Robh

12:33pm Mon 3 Feb 14

ChannelX says...

@Robh: a valid point, but it also needs to be remembered that some people appear to believe that being consulted means any view they espouse has been 'ignored' if things then don't happen as they'd prefer...

...or, in other words, they automatically believe that democracy has 'failed' if they don't get their own way.
@Robh: a valid point, but it also needs to be remembered that some people appear to believe that being consulted means any view they espouse has been 'ignored' if things then don't happen as they'd prefer... ...or, in other words, they automatically believe that democracy has 'failed' if they don't get their own way. ChannelX

12:46pm Mon 3 Feb 14

The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man says...

ChannelX wrote:
@Robh: a valid point, but it also needs to be remembered that some people appear to believe that being consulted means any view they espouse has been 'ignored' if things then don't happen as they'd prefer...

...or, in other words, they automatically believe that democracy has 'failed' if they don't get their own way.
That may be the case. On the other hand I've been told things to my face by local councillors and even our MP during "consultations" that they've then gone back on their word on. It's this two-faced sort of behaviour that gives politics a bad name and leads to this kind of accusation. Democracy HAS failed if the will of the council is taken over the will of the people, as has happened on numerous occasions.
[quote][p][bold]ChannelX[/bold] wrote: @Robh: a valid point, but it also needs to be remembered that some people appear to believe that being consulted means any view they espouse has been 'ignored' if things then don't happen as they'd prefer... ...or, in other words, they automatically believe that democracy has 'failed' if they don't get their own way.[/p][/quote]That may be the case. On the other hand I've been told things to my face by local councillors and even our MP during "consultations" that they've then gone back on their word on. It's this two-faced sort of behaviour that gives politics a bad name and leads to this kind of accusation. Democracy HAS failed if the will of the council is taken over the will of the people, as has happened on numerous occasions. The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man

1:34pm Mon 3 Feb 14

house on the hill says...

The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man wrote:
ChannelX wrote:
@Robh: a valid point, but it also needs to be remembered that some people appear to believe that being consulted means any view they espouse has been 'ignored' if things then don't happen as they'd prefer...

...or, in other words, they automatically believe that democracy has 'failed' if they don't get their own way.
That may be the case. On the other hand I've been told things to my face by local councillors and even our MP during "consultations" that they've then gone back on their word on. It's this two-faced sort of behaviour that gives politics a bad name and leads to this kind of accusation. Democracy HAS failed if the will of the council is taken over the will of the people, as has happened on numerous occasions.
It isnt really democracy, after all once elected, they can just walk in and rip up everything they promised before the election and do what they like. And as you say they have the final say and can change their minds whenever they want to and we are stuck with them until the next election.

And no I don't know what the answer is but we don't have anything approaching a true democracy and need to stop pretending we do and look at the reality of politics and politicians.
[quote][p][bold]The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ChannelX[/bold] wrote: @Robh: a valid point, but it also needs to be remembered that some people appear to believe that being consulted means any view they espouse has been 'ignored' if things then don't happen as they'd prefer... ...or, in other words, they automatically believe that democracy has 'failed' if they don't get their own way.[/p][/quote]That may be the case. On the other hand I've been told things to my face by local councillors and even our MP during "consultations" that they've then gone back on their word on. It's this two-faced sort of behaviour that gives politics a bad name and leads to this kind of accusation. Democracy HAS failed if the will of the council is taken over the will of the people, as has happened on numerous occasions.[/p][/quote]It isnt really democracy, after all once elected, they can just walk in and rip up everything they promised before the election and do what they like. And as you say they have the final say and can change their minds whenever they want to and we are stuck with them until the next election. And no I don't know what the answer is but we don't have anything approaching a true democracy and need to stop pretending we do and look at the reality of politics and politicians. house on the hill

2:13pm Mon 3 Feb 14

ChannelX says...

But this is the point... 'democracy', within a system of elected representatives, doesn't mean you'll ALWAYS get your own way on EVERY decision taken by the person you voted for.

We vote in the person we think will represent us best. If they don't, all we can do is then vote for somebody else the next time.

People seem to get confused and think that the minute something doesn't go the way they want it to, it must mean 'democracy' has 'failed'.

As I said above, the ONLY way to achieve true and direct democracy is to introduce the proposition system of voting on the major local issues. That way everyone has their say and the majority view is the one that is implemented.
But this is the point... 'democracy', within a system of elected representatives, doesn't mean you'll ALWAYS get your own way on EVERY decision taken by the person you voted for. We vote in the person we think will represent us best. If they don't, all we can do is then vote for somebody else the next time. People seem to get confused and think that the minute something doesn't go the way they want it to, it must mean 'democracy' has 'failed'. As I said above, the ONLY way to achieve true and direct democracy is to introduce the proposition system of voting on the major local issues. That way everyone has their say and the majority view is the one that is implemented. ChannelX

3:36pm Mon 3 Feb 14

The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man says...

ChannelX wrote:
But this is the point... 'democracy', within a system of elected representatives, doesn't mean you'll ALWAYS get your own way on EVERY decision taken by the person you voted for.

We vote in the person we think will represent us best. If they don't, all we can do is then vote for somebody else the next time.

People seem to get confused and think that the minute something doesn't go the way they want it to, it must mean 'democracy' has 'failed'.

As I said above, the ONLY way to achieve true and direct democracy is to introduce the proposition system of voting on the major local issues. That way everyone has their say and the majority view is the one that is implemented.
I think you're missing the point.

When a local politician tells me as an election promise that they stand for one thing, then does something entirely different once elected, tows the party line and changes their tune accordingly, that's not called democracy. At the minimum it calls into question the integrity of the person being elected, but worse it also calls into question the integrity of the entire electoral process and even the whole political system. It's broken. Politicians should be held to account on their election promises and should be paid (appropriately) when and if they deliver upon them. I believe it's called performance related pay. If they are not delivering on their election promises they should be sacked as anyone not performing in any other job would be.

In direct relation to the article there is absolutely the sum total of zero point in improving the consultation process if the council then carry on and do what they wanted to do anyway. Might as well save (our) cash.
[quote][p][bold]ChannelX[/bold] wrote: But this is the point... 'democracy', within a system of elected representatives, doesn't mean you'll ALWAYS get your own way on EVERY decision taken by the person you voted for. We vote in the person we think will represent us best. If they don't, all we can do is then vote for somebody else the next time. People seem to get confused and think that the minute something doesn't go the way they want it to, it must mean 'democracy' has 'failed'. As I said above, the ONLY way to achieve true and direct democracy is to introduce the proposition system of voting on the major local issues. That way everyone has their say and the majority view is the one that is implemented.[/p][/quote]I think you're missing the point. When a local politician tells me as an election promise that they stand for one thing, then does something entirely different once elected, tows the party line and changes their tune accordingly, that's not called democracy. At the minimum it calls into question the integrity of the person being elected, but worse it also calls into question the integrity of the entire electoral process and even the whole political system. It's broken. Politicians should be held to account on their election promises and should be paid (appropriately) when and if they deliver upon them. I believe it's called performance related pay. If they are not delivering on their election promises they should be sacked as anyone not performing in any other job would be. In direct relation to the article there is absolutely the sum total of zero point in improving the consultation process if the council then carry on and do what they wanted to do anyway. Might as well save (our) cash. The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man

5:22pm Mon 3 Feb 14

ChannelX says...

@The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man: but what if that local politician has been out speaking to others who voted for him and the majority wanted him to do something other than he told you he was going to do?

It would be democratic for him to follow what the majority have said they'd prefer him to do... hence the scenario where YOU feel democracy has failed but, in reality, it was done the opposite.

Or are you suggesting that politicians must never, ever deviate from what they tell you personally on any given day?
@The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man: but what if that local politician has been out speaking to others who voted for him and the majority wanted him to do something other than he told you he was going to do? It would be democratic for him to follow what the majority have said they'd prefer him to do... hence the scenario where YOU feel democracy has failed but, in reality, it was done the opposite. Or are you suggesting that politicians must never, ever deviate from what they tell you personally on any given day? ChannelX

6:52pm Mon 3 Feb 14

1 2 Could B says...

@The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man: but what if that local politician has been out speaking to others who voted for him and the majority wanted him to do something other than he told you he was going to do?

It would be democratic for him to follow what the majority have said they'd prefer him to do.........

Which is exactly what doesn't happen.
Only a "politician" would try to convince people otherwise
[quote]@The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man: but what if that local politician has been out speaking to others who voted for him and the majority wanted him to do something other than he told you he was going to do? It would be democratic for him to follow what the majority have said they'd prefer him to do.........[/quote] Which is exactly what doesn't happen. Only a "politician" would try to convince people otherwise 1 2 Could B

11:46pm Mon 3 Feb 14

Eastern Badger says...

Perhaps they should read the ACAS definition of consultation - it applies equally well to SBC (in fact particularly well):

Consultation involves taking account of as well as listening to the views of employees and must therefore take place before decisions are made. Making a pretence of consulting on issues that have already been decided is unproductive and engenders suspicion and mistrust about the process amongst staff. It will be helpful to decide upon the degree of consultation first and to inform people what the decision making process will be.
Perhaps they should read the ACAS definition of consultation - it applies equally well to SBC (in fact particularly well): Consultation involves taking account of as well as listening to the views of employees and must therefore take place before decisions are made. Making a pretence of consulting on issues that have already been decided is unproductive and engenders suspicion and mistrust about the process amongst staff. It will be helpful to decide upon the degree of consultation first and to inform people what the decision making process will be. Eastern Badger

8:07am Tue 4 Feb 14

ChannelX says...

1 2 Could B wrote:
@The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man: but what if that local politician has been out speaking to others who voted for him and the majority wanted him to do something other than he told you he was going to do?

It would be democratic for him to follow what the majority have said they'd prefer him to do.........

Which is exactly what doesn't happen.
Only a "politician" would try to convince people otherwise
You're saying that politicians never vote the way the majority of those who voted for them want them to vote?

In fact, you're actively saying they only ever do the opposite?

You have a problem.
[quote][p][bold]1 2 Could B[/bold] wrote: [quote]@The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man: but what if that local politician has been out speaking to others who voted for him and the majority wanted him to do something other than he told you he was going to do? It would be democratic for him to follow what the majority have said they'd prefer him to do.........[/quote] Which is exactly what doesn't happen. Only a "politician" would try to convince people otherwise[/p][/quote]You're saying that politicians never vote the way the majority of those who voted for them want them to vote? In fact, you're actively saying they only ever do the opposite? You have a problem. ChannelX

9:16am Tue 4 Feb 14

The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man says...

ChannelX wrote:
@The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man: but what if that local politician has been out speaking to others who voted for him and the majority wanted him to do something other than he told you he was going to do?

It would be democratic for him to follow what the majority have said they'd prefer him to do... hence the scenario where YOU feel democracy has failed but, in reality, it was done the opposite.

Or are you suggesting that politicians must never, ever deviate from what they tell you personally on any given day?
Then they shouldn't make promises they can't possibly keep. Comes back to (lack of) integrity again.
[quote][p][bold]ChannelX[/bold] wrote: @The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man: but what if that local politician has been out speaking to others who voted for him and the majority wanted him to do something other than he told you he was going to do? It would be democratic for him to follow what the majority have said they'd prefer him to do... hence the scenario where YOU feel democracy has failed but, in reality, it was done the opposite. Or are you suggesting that politicians must never, ever deviate from what they tell you personally on any given day?[/p][/quote]Then they shouldn't make promises they can't possibly keep. Comes back to (lack of) integrity again. The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man

9:32am Tue 4 Feb 14

ChannelX says...

The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man wrote:
ChannelX wrote:
@The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man: but what if that local politician has been out speaking to others who voted for him and the majority wanted him to do something other than he told you he was going to do?

It would be democratic for him to follow what the majority have said they'd prefer him to do... hence the scenario where YOU feel democracy has failed but, in reality, it was done the opposite.

Or are you suggesting that politicians must never, ever deviate from what they tell you personally on any given day?
Then they shouldn't make promises they can't possibly keep. Comes back to (lack of) integrity again.
Fair point. Although, I'm not quite sure how that'd work...

"Can you tell me how you intend to vote on this issue?"

"No, I'm afraid not"

"Why not?"

"Because other factors may come into play that aren't know yet, or I may find that the majority of my voters think a different way"

"So, you won't give me a straight answer then?"

"No, I can't, because if I do and then things change you'll accuse me of having no integrity"

"Maybe you should just give me an answer and then stick to it even if it ends up being the wrong or minority vote?"

"Er, hmm"
[quote][p][bold]The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ChannelX[/bold] wrote: @The Artist formally known as Grumpy Old Man: but what if that local politician has been out speaking to others who voted for him and the majority wanted him to do something other than he told you he was going to do? It would be democratic for him to follow what the majority have said they'd prefer him to do... hence the scenario where YOU feel democracy has failed but, in reality, it was done the opposite. Or are you suggesting that politicians must never, ever deviate from what they tell you personally on any given day?[/p][/quote]Then they shouldn't make promises they can't possibly keep. Comes back to (lack of) integrity again.[/p][/quote]Fair point. Although, I'm not quite sure how that'd work... "Can you tell me how you intend to vote on this issue?" "No, I'm afraid not" "Why not?" "Because other factors may come into play that aren't know yet, or I may find that the majority of my voters think a different way" "So, you won't give me a straight answer then?" "No, I can't, because if I do and then things change you'll accuse me of having no integrity" "Maybe you should just give me an answer and then stick to it even if it ends up being the wrong or minority vote?" "Er, hmm" ChannelX

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