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.