Sunday, 17 August 2008

Are all consultations a sham?

Yesterday, I posted a message on this blog about the consultation on the Regional Spatial Strategy. I stand by what I wrote but have been thinking a lot about government ‘consultations’ during the last 24 hours.

I had to ask myself: are they all a sham?

I remember Labour’s plans for regional government (‘Your Region, Your Choice’) in 2002, when they ignored 50,000 declarations for a Cornish Assembly and more representations from Cornwall than the whole of England combined.

By contrast, the go-ahead was given for the Lib Dem’s scheme for a single unitary authority in spite of 80% opposition from the people of Cornwall.

A few days ago in my capacity as a Restormel councillor, I was part of a delegation that met with representatives of the Post Office to discuss their closure programme. We were told bluntly that 20% of Post Offices will close. And if we are successful in saving one outlet, another Post Office (presently not even under threat) will close instead! Madness.

I also remember so many ‘consultations’ where the views of local people have been ignored, such as plans for the centralisation of the Health Service or the loss of Cornwall’s Fire Service control room.

While such thoughts may be chastening, we must never stop making the representations, lobbying and just downright making a nuisance of ourselves.

You never know … one day, ‘they’ might actually listen to us and do the right thing.

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