public consultation

This evening, in the last Meeting of this Council, I proposed that the manner in which public consultations are conducted by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, be reviewed.

The Council has a statutory obligation to hold a public consultation on certain projects and planning matters. Additionally, other proposals are put out to “non-statutory” public consultation so that residents and other people affected by a project have an opportunity to have their say.

The problem that seems to exist is that, notwithstanding plenty of public consultation, many of the members of the public either don’t hear about it or engage with it. I believe that there two main reasons for this: (1) the avenues for making submissions can often be convoluted and cumbersome, thereby discouraging people from making a submission; and (2) people often miss the call for submissions, either because they don’t scour the daily newspapers/council web site/local libraries for ads calling for submissions, or they are distracted by the many other calls for their attention in a busy world.

So I have called on the Council to make this process more direct and allow members of the public to subscribe to an e-mail alert service, provided by DLRCoCo, that would, on an area-by-area basis, let them know what public consultations are taking place, inform them when the deadline for submissions is, and allow them to make a submission by reply.

While the Council, and more particularly the councillors, have a responsibility to do what they can to inform local residents and businesses about what is happening in their areas, there is only so much we can do.

A source of frustration is that the details of residents’ associations that have registered with DLRCoCo, are not, necessarily, passed on to councillors in that area. This is apparently for data protection reasons, but it is entirely nonsensical since it precludes a valuable and readily-available means of communication between councillors and local residents.

Hence, I further said that the Council should endeavour to obtain approval from those residents’ associations’ contact persons, for their details to be shared with councillors — in everyone’s interest.

I hope, in the age of e-mail, social media and immediate communication, that we move towards easier and more facilitative communication. If re-elected later this month, I will raise and pursue these issues again in the new Council.

You can see my contribution here.

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