What is Consultation?
How is it different to Information Sharing?
Just labelling an activity “consultation” is not enough. It is important that all those involved in the planning ecosystem recognise the difference between real and robust consultation and simple information sharing (however complex the data being shared happens to be).
Consultation involves taking account of, as well as
listening to, the views of those citizens being
consulted and must, therefore, take place before
any decisions are made.
We, the citizen, should be clear, that consultation does not mean that our views always have to be acted upon. There may be good practical or financial reasons for not doing so. When a citizen’s views are rejected though, the justification for doing so should be fully explained.
Making a pretence of consultation is unproductive, engenders suspicion and increases mistrust. True consultation will enable the citizen to contribute to scheme designs, will stimulate debate and encourage “buy-in” to the proposals.
Real, robust consultation should, firstly, consider whether there is a need for what is being planned and then, secondly, consider how those needs are to be addressed. It would also helpful to inform people about how the decision-making process works.
So, looking at the “committed” road across Carrington Moss – we should, firstly, have been consulted about whether a new road is actually needed. IF it is agreed that a new road IS needed, we should then be consulted about the design and placement of that road. Alternatively, if it is agreed that improved public transport would address the existing traffic challenges (and we could get a lot of public transport for the £33 million estimate that the new road is going to cost), we should be consulted about the public transport needs for the area.
Designing the new road will, like the overall Trafford Masterplan for the area, cost lots of money, so how likely is it that the design will be changed as a result of any “consultation” to be carried out? It is, therefore, imperative that citizens are fully involved in that design process!
All roads are extremely busy during rush hour but we cannot duplicate them all just to satisfy the needs of one type of road user – the driver! If more focus was given to other users and public transport/traffic free routes were given a higher priority, we (and our children/grandchildren) would all be a lot healthier.
Remember, if a new road is built, it is likely to be full of traffic from outside the borough before a single new house is built. So, if the traffic chaos during rush hour continues either before, during or after the new houses have been built, what is the answer?
Someone is bound to suggest yet another highly polluting new road, rather than the public transport improvements we so desperately need!
With this in mind, please don’t forget that we have a petition against the new roads across Carrington Moss. If you live in Trafford and haven’t signed it yet, and are unable to print your own copy, get in touch. If you can print out the petition and get signatures from your family, friends and neighbours, we’d be delighted.
You can find a copy of the petition and more information here: https://friendsofcarringtonmoss.com/2019/05/04/petition-against-roads-across-through-carrington-moss/.