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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.


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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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