Consultation, notification, or diversion?

Dear Spurtle, 

I read with interest your article 'How to consult better?' (Issue 319, page 3). 

Community consultation is often carried out by public authorities which claim to be interested in what people in the community tell them. In some situations, there is a statutory duty to consult on a plethora of proposals put forward by central and local government. The trouble with community consultation is that public authorities carry out these expensive exercises but, in reality, there is no requirement to heed what they are told.

Without wishing to appear cynical, the real question is: When does consultation become notification? Or, to put it another way: the implementation of a proposal is often a foregone conclusion regardless of what community consultation elicits.

I have heard that City of Edinburgh Council is considering community consultation over its street-cleaning and waste-management services. This may well be a pointless exercise as the Council has given me short shrift for a number of years for deigning to complain about: the dangerous condition of the footpaths in East Claremont St; hopscotching through dog excreta in the city's streets; overflowing communal bins which are not emptied often enough; failure to clear up spillages around food waste bins, which attracts vermin.

Who needs consultation when more honest attention to complaints would go a long way to improving things? Elected members of the Council are well aware of these deficiencies in the street-cleaning and waste-management services they provide, but would, if what I hear on the grapevine is anything to go by, rather carry out a consultation. 

Elected members of the Council (and community councils) may well be part of the problem because they are not part of the solution.

Shane Carter

East Claremont Street