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Worcester City Council launches review to fight off ‘consultations fatigue’
A FRESH initiative to ensure your views help shape Worcester’s future has been launched – amid fears not enough people are engaging with the city council.
A review is taking place into how to get more feedback – and better quality views – from residents about the issues that really matter.
It includes creating an online “consultation calendar” so people can go to one place to find out what the city council wants opinions on, and at what point during the year.
It follows concern people are either not getting involved at all, or do take part in public sector surveys but suffer ‘consultation fatigue’ because there are so many. As well as the city council other bodies like the fire service, police and NHS regularly launch surveys into the public mood before making decisions.
The council’s review of its consultations strategy will take place in January, and was debated during a scrutiny meeting at the Guildhall.
During the most recent summer survey 460 people took part, despite Worcester having 99,000 residents.
Councillor Andy Roberts said: “I get quite bothered about this, really. The way we used to get around it was to pay someone a lot of money and say, ‘You’re the experts, do this for us’, but that method wasn’t satisfactory either. You will always get this sample size which is not sufficient, partly because people aren’t bothered and aren’t engaged.
“We have to remember that when we’re consulting with the public, the public are always paying.
“We’ve said for the last ten years, ‘This is a snapshot’ of people’s views, but we do need to be adult and really point out the limitations.”
During the debate some politicians said many residents feel like their views are not being listened to – while others think they can influence a decision, when in terms of planning applications, often they cannot. Coun Derek Prodger said: “I’ve been involved on the planning committee for decades and there always seems to be this public anxiety that things can happen without the public getting involved.”
Coun Lucy Hodgson said local politicians often get scapegoated as ‘the big bad wolf’ when difficult decisions are made.
The calendar could include consultations from other bodies, such as the NHS, to avoid people being asked the same questions twice.
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