Consultation is a very broad term and there are very many different interpretations of what it means; ranging from informing people about projects in the area to actively engaging them in decision making.
Some find it useful to think about consultation in along the following lines:
This is the minimum requirement for many of the statutory consultations that the Council is involved in, such as Planning Applications and Traffic Regulation Orders
As is implied by the title; this is what many understand by the term consultation. Traditional processes are used to inform strategies, service planning and projects, including surveys, public meetings, etc
Encouraging others to provide some additional ideas and options, and join in deciding the best way forward.
This is more of a deliberative process and one which works well with smaller groups of people, sometimes in a formal environment- such as meetings with representative groups or informally through focus groups and workshops. These processes can be part of an on-going process (for example to inform transport planning and libraries ‘friends groups’) or one-off (for example to inform the strategies and policies).
Deciding together what is best, and forming a partnership to carry it out.
The Council is the lead organisation for the Local Strategic Partnership, which includes other local public services including the police, local health trust and other organisations such as residents associations and parish and town councils. Through the LSP the council has formulated a Community Strategy and will be developing a Local Area Agreement.
Supporting independent community initiatives
Helping others do what they want - within a framework of grants, advice and support provided by the Council.
The Council is involved in actively supporting independent community and voluntary organisations through funding and by helping them in the work that they do.
The Council is also involved in setting up a Local Area Committee in south Bath as part of a pilot project to hand more power to local communities.