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How many mistakes can we make in a public consultation?

How fault-tolerant is the process of listening to stakeholders?

For some years, a tactic of choice for anyone objecting to decisions taken to change public policy or public services, has been to apply to the Courts for a Judicial Review. For many, it has seemed that decision-makers were more vulnerable on the process they followed than the actual decisions they took. No wonder it has engendered a defensive culture among those who undertake public consultations. Avoid mistakes at any cost! This topic considers whether this fear is justified.

There has probably never been a perfect consultation exercise. The very nature of the task, inviting human beings to offer their opinions on often-complicated issues, takes us towards the realm of relationships and the nuances of language – even psychology. It is not an exact science.


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About the Author

Rhion Jones is considered a leading authority on Public Engagement and Consultation. A founding Director of the Consultation Institute, he is co-author of “The Art of Consultation” (2009) and “The Politics of Consultation” (2018). He has delivered over 500 training courses and Masterclasses and is a prolific writer on the subject, having written over 350 different Topic papers and over 50 full Briefing Papers for the Institute. Since 2003 over 15,000 person-days of training based on courses he invented have been delivered. Rhion is in demand as an entertaining Keynote Speaker and Special Adviser, particularly on the Law of Consultation, and its implications for Government and other Public Bodies. In 2017, he was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

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