Consultation overload

Government consultations don’t stand on their own – they compete in a marketplace of political engagement opportunities national, local, formal and informal. An interesting snapshot of how crowded that marketplace is comes from Brighton & Hove, where the strategic partnership have undertaken an audit of all “significant or major” consultation activity planned across the local public sector in the 2012/3 financial year.

The research shows that the different public sector organisations plan on undertaking at least eighty significant consultation exercises this year, just in Brighton & Hove, a city of 260,000 people. Many of those are on very local issues, such as new schools and libraries, which will have a direct impact on people in the places where they live.

That’s a tough market in which to attract audiences to broad central government consultations.


Published by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.

One reply on “Consultation overload”

  1. This made me think of a line (pretty much the only one I can ever remember) from the Ancient Mariner poem: “Water, water everywhere; nor any drop to drink “. Anyway, as you’ve implied in your post, the response to overload is often to simply switch off. I think we need to try to avoid the chance of overload in the first place; that would require us to be more discerning in our segmentation of audiences, more nuanced regarding the scope of our engagement (again, as you’ve already mentioned) and get out of the kind of broadcast mode that only (barely) works when you’re engaging with huge audiences. Nothing to it, really :-).

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