Consultations are a sham, says MP

PEOPLE taking part in consultations do not believe their views are being listened to, according to St Albans MP Anne Main. During a debate in the House of Commons last week, she challenged the Government about the reasons why people often felt that consul

PEOPLE taking part in consultations do not believe their views are being listened to, according to St Albans MP Anne Main.

During a debate in the House of Commons last week, she challenged the Government about the reasons why people often felt that consultations were not worth taking part in.

In her statement on the Government's Communities in Control initiative, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears tried to convince Parliament that people would take part in consultations and get more involved in their community if they could effect change.

A range of policies were proposed, designed to engage local people in the running of their communities including being rewarded for taking part in consultations and petitions,such as entering people into a lottery as a reward for voting.


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Mrs Main said that people got involved if they could see any point in it but pointed to the irrational situation in St Albans last year over proposals for additional gipsy sites in the district where people were offered two options - both of which were for 34 extra pitches.

Ms Blears responded by saying that consultation and involvement should involve dialogue and conversation and in her experience, people who wanted to get involved did not necessarily expect to get everything they wanted.

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But she added: "People will not keep getting involved if they keep getting rebuffed."

After the debate Mrs Main accused the Government of losing the plot and said Ms Blears' "raft of gimmicks" had missed the point.

She added: "Currently people do not take part in consultations because they know that their opinions will not be listened to and in the end the Secretary of State makes the final decision despite what local people think.

"Often seemingly 'sham' consultations are put forward which offer no real options - as was the case with the East of England Plan consultation on Gipsy and Traveller site provision - and we regularly see consultations where the Government's response is prepared before responses are even in.

"Our hospital consultation was another costly, time-consuming exercise that led us nowhere - no wonder people are switched off by politics."Ho

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