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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!


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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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