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Tick-in-the-box consultation? – A dangerous development for consultation is the trend towards listening because you've been told to do so – rather than because you genuinely want to hear people's views…….

Law-makers have switched on to the idea of consultation, with the result that our legislation is becoming very prescriptive, and requires all kinds of public bodies to consult a vast range of stakeholders.

At one level, this is undoubtedly good news. It recognises that too many decisions taken by well-meaning quangos or civil servants took inadequate account of potential consequences, and too many bodies served the public in their own sweet way with little co-ordination with other parallel organisations. Governments have responded, and MPs have enthusiastically voted for new clauses in Bills – obliging newly-formed bodies to consult properly. Examples include NHS Primary Care Trusts and Crime and Disorder Partnerships in England, and Community Planning responsibilities placed on Local Authorities in Scotland.


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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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