THE UK CONSULT | Episode 31: Starring Rhion Jones from The Consultation Institute

THE UK CONSULT | Episode 31: Staring Rhion Jones from The Consultation Institute

Welcome to the UK Consult, our occasional ramble through all things about public consultation and citizen engagement in the UK, with special guests and lovely examples of online public consultation from around the world!

In this episode, Jonno is entertained by our special guest Rhion Jones from The Consultation Institute.

Join Rhion and Jonno as they reminisce about their shared history in the business of public consultation before tackling some big topics around:

  • The need for extensive public consultation in the climate emergency response, and how this presents a dilemma to policymakers who just want to get on with it!
  • Air Quality Zones and The Case for Clean Air where consultation cops the blame for many schemes failing. “During the coronavirus pandemic, over fifty local authorities trialled around 200 low traffic neighborhoods closing off local roads to avoid through traffic and dedicating the space to active travel. However, partly due to a lack of community consultation, some LTNs attracted strong opposition, and many of the trials were suspended.”
  • How Covid19 has changed public consultation with the government less able to run things on trust with a skeptical public who will demand to be consulted and be involved
  • New terminology like “the seldom online” and “blended engagement” and the importance of tackling the digital divide as more public consultation goes online
  • How public consultation is the bastion of evidence-based decision making, harnesses diverse thinking, and protects against the dangers of homophily for good decision making
  • A two-week consultation being better than no public consultation a tall and the role of online in fast track public engagement (think vaccine passports)
  • The big challenges ahead of training people to use civic tech as well as training participants to do it

And much more! 


Rhion also introduces two important initiatives from The Consultation Institute (PODCAST EXCLUSIVE)

1. MIDAS the online database and single source of truth about public consultations across the UK

2. The Institute’s Online Dispute Resolution service for disgruntled consultees

Jonathan takes time out to give a shoutout to Rutland County Council’s brand new site Future Rutland where local people are being invited to discuss the future.

Topics include:

  1. What you value most about your life here in Rutland
  2. What your expectations are for yourself and your family
  3. What your expectations are for future generations

Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council also get a special mention for their excellent project, Reimagining Your High Street, where the Ideas and Places tool are being put to great use to encourage local people to look past what may currently be present in their high streets and think of its potential and how we can re-energize these areas:

“Councillor Philip Broadhead, Deputy Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning, said: “I am delighted to launch this informal engagement which looks at the future of our high streets across BCP. This is an ideal opportunity to create a bigger conversation that everyone can be part of and we want your views!

Now is the time to switch gears and reimagine our high streets which play a key role in creating a sense of place. They are the beating heart of our communities and we are determined to do whatever it takes to give our high street businesses the fastest bounce back possible.” – BCP Council


And yes we finish by sharing a bad joke each!

Rhion Jones (together with Elizabeth Gammell) is also the co-author of The Politics of Consultation available here.

“It tells the tale of, mostly, well-meaning attempts to engage with people and civil society as public bodies and others seek to respond to demands for greater involvement and participation in decision-making. Politicians are caught in the middle of this, torn between enthusiastically supporting consultation – when it suits them, and nervous of its power to delay and divert them when rushing to make change happen.”

Duration: 37 mins

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