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Principles for effective community consultation

This Article is By: Kingston Electors    On  Nov. - 15, 2005

Principles for effective community consultation

These principles for effective consultation have been adapted from Carson 1999, UK Cabinet Office 2000 and UK Local Government Association 2000.

By focussing on the following principles for effective community consultation, consultation can be involving, meaningful, useful and effective. These principles for effective community consultation provide a useful starting point formaking consultation work.

Make it timely

Participation should not be so late in the life of an issue that it is tokenistic, or merely confirms decisions already made. The timing should occur when citizens have the best chance of influencing outcomes. Give people enough time to express their views.

Make it inclusive

Participants should be selected in a way that is not open to manipulation, and should include a cross-section of the population — as individuals and as groups. Random selection offers the best chance of achieving this.

Make it community-focussed

Ask participants not what they want personally or what is in their self-interest, but what they consider appropriate in their role as citizens.

Make it interactive and deliberative

Avoid reducing questions to a simplistic either/or response. Allow consideration of the big picture, so people can really become engaged.

Make it effective

Although decision-making can strive for consensus, complete agreement need not be the outcome. Be clear on how the decisions will be made so that participants know and understand the impact of their involvement. Make sure all participants have time to become well-informed about and to understand material they are unlikely to have a prior familiarity with.

Make it matter

It is important that there is a strong likelihood that any recommendations which emerge from the consultative process will be adopted. If they are not, it is important that a public explanation is provided. Faith in the process is important by both the power holders and the participants.