Tories respond to criticism over flawed consultations…by not consulting at all

February 7, 2013 6:37 PM

Over the years, Liberal Democrat councillors have strongly criticised the Tory administration for their flawed consultations. In recent weeks, it has come to light that the Tory vision for Brentwood known as "the corporate plan" is based on responses from 14 residents.

This week has seen more astonishing admissions from Brentwood's ruling party:

  • On Tuesday night, they put a proposal forward to change the parking regime in King George's Park and probing questions from opposition members showed that they had not consulted anyone at all - not ward councillors, park users or the King George's Park Working Party. The item was deferred to a later meeting following this shock news.
  • The provision of a town centre market was discussed on Wednesday night and it was discovered that residents, market users and High Street shoppers were not consulted on what they would like to see.
Karen Chilvers

Cllr Karen Chilvers

Lib Dem Cllr Karen Chilvers moved that a survey should be conducted and brought back in six months, but the Tories voted against this sensible course of action.

Cllr Chilvers said:

"This past week alone has shown that the Tories pay lip service to consultation or don't do it all and, consequently, they have absolutely no idea what residents want because they cannot put a good consultation paper together.

"As well as the two that didn't even happen, on Tuesday we had to throw out another consultation because they had asked the wrong question - on a paper that only had three questions in totality!"

Questions have also been raised about the council's "Public Information Panel" which, despite being a properly constituted committee of the council has only met once in six years and behind closed doors. Liberal Democrat councillors have called for it to be held regularly, in public, and look at the communications strategy of the council and issues such as the content, number and methodology of consultations.