The Ballot-Box By-Pass – Elected Councillors in Local Authorities – and even Members of Parliament have genuine concerns about some consultations. Striking the right balance between representative and consultative democracy is vital
If public and stakeholder consultations are to be really effective, then politicians must believe in them and be comfortable with the process. But there is evidence that too little has been done to sit down with elected representatives and agree where and when consultation is appropriate and where and when it is not.
The truth is that there is tension between representative democracy and consultative democracy. Elected Councillors will rightly be concerned if, having stood for election, the momentum to fulfil election promises is delayed by a protracted consultation period. They might feel further aggrieved if the consultation appears to be designed to water down their programmes or to undermine their aspirations. No wonder some council leaders are ambivalent about consulting their constituents.