Self-defence! – Consultation is like justice. It must not just be done – it must be seen to be done!
The famous Welsh Rugby coach, Carwyn James (famous for his work with the 1971 British Lions) is remembered for once having urged his players to “get your retaliation in first” ! I suspect that many who organise public consultations know what he meant.
They have accepted a difficult brief, arranged to have the arguments set out as fairly as possible and published a consultation schedule that no-one can fault. Meetings have been held, questionnaires returned, submissions received, data analysed – and everything is done by the book.
Yet there are times when such is the controversial nature of the subject – or such is the tenacity of a proposal’s opponents – that nothing can convince people that the process has been fair. For the more difficult options where the consultor had a choice to make, it is a case of:- damned if you do …. and damned if you don’t!