Council plans to look at improving consultations welcomed
5:30am Monday 3rd February 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
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.”
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