Scots Government accused of “watering down” consultation responses
Alex Salmond and his Ministers have come under fire for, allegedly, ‘massaging’ the Report on the consultation it organised on the proposed independence referendum.
Freedom of Information enquiries revealed hundreds of pages of correspondence between Edinburgh civil servants and an independent researcher whose job it was to prepare the Report. Whilst the researcher herself has naturally been tight-lipped about the exercise, critics have been quick to accuse SNP administration of cheating.
Rhion Jones, Programme Director of the Institute comments, “It is not unusual to have robust discussions about the interpretation of data, but the basic analysis has to be 100% honest. In this case, the Deputy First Minister admitted that they had taken the relevant decisions without seeing the full analysis. No wonder there is a row about the Report! It shows yet again that consultor organisations must be scrupulously honest in their handling of consultations.”
Pickles proposes "light-touch"
Eric Pickles was busy bartering last week as he tried to get his plans to allow the building of single storey extensions to houses without planning permission through Parliament.
In order to assuage backbench Tories and Lib Dems, such as Zac Goldsmith, worried about the effects extensions might have on neighbours, Pickles announced plans for ‘light-touch neighbour consultations’. Pickles’ move does seem to have worked politically as the objectors have fallen into line, but here at tCI we are intrigued to find out what exactly a ‘light-touch’ consultation will entail and how it will differ from what already exists, and what will be the role of councillors. More when we find out.
New face at DCLG
The DCLG has appointed the first permanent Director-General for Localism.
Helen Edwards will be starting in May and it will be interesting to see if she brings any direction back to the various localism initiatives - such as the ‘Big Society’ - which seem to have gone very quiet over the last few months.
Neighbourhood planning progressing well
Later this week Planning Minister Nick Boles will be visiting the Thame Neighbourhood Plan. Why?
Thame is the third plan to pass independent examination and is another sign of the increasing momentum of neighbourhood planning. The residents are busy gearing up for the final stage of the process, a referendum on the 2nd of May, which will decide whether the plan will be used to make planning decisions or not.
Another plan in Exeter is also due to go to referendum on the same day. tCI will keep you updated on the outcomes.
Gearing up for Social Media SIG
tCI is busy getting ready for our first Social Media Special Interest Group (SIG) this coming Friday.
For those who are attending, or for those wishing to follow the day online, we’ll be using the hashtag #tCIsm and our twitter account is @tCInews – see you there!