You may ask, why have the Partnership Chairs and Vice-Chairs taken so much of an interest in the Strategy?
A key aim of the Partnerships is to promote grass roots democracy. To achieve this, people need to be properly informed and to have an opportunity to have their say.
Although the Strategy’s public consultation appears to have been ongoing for years, it was only in September 2010 when the real “meat” of the Strategy was revealed. This detail included the new house building targets, forecasts for new jobs, population projections and an analysis of the schools and hospitals needed to support the planned population growth – at least up to the medium term.
Given the emergence of the detail, the Chairs and Vice-Chairs expected huge public interest in the 4 full day public consultation meetings held in September and October. To our great surprise, the attendance at these meetings was miserable – about 2 dozen attendees per meeting.
Why was there so little public interest? In our view, one of the reasons was that the sheer volume of information - 172 pages! The great majority of ordinary people with families and jobs just don’t have the time to plough through such weighty documents. Worse still, even for those undaunted by the sheer volume of documentation, they rapidly found that it’s written in “Council” speak. Whatever happened to plain English?