Sparks have been flying between Council Officers and local environmental campaigners over Sefton’s launch material published as a wrap-around to the Borough’s newspapers this week.
Having seen both sides of the dispute I fear that the Council is not providing information that is clear and understandable. It is obviously the case that their words are open to different interpretations.
Sadly, the first round of consultation, held in 2011, did not go too well and with the second round of 12 week consultation having just started my fear is that it will not go well either.
I have said before that the ability of the Council to put Local Plan information clearly before the public is the problem. I have no doubt that some of the issues are complex and interrelated but if there is to be a successful 2nd period of consultation it needs to be via a process whereby all those who wish to engage can reasonably easily get to grips with the important issues. My former councillor colleague David Tattersall, an expert in communicating messages, always said the council was not good at explaining things clearly to residents.
The Council will do itself no good at all if it looks like all it is doing is blinding folk with stats and information that residents can’t make any sense of.
And the facts are important as we are talking about a document that will have a huge impact on the Borough for many years to come. Our Green Belt is under threat again, high grade agricultural land could well be built upon and Labour, who run Sefton Council and have said they would not support Green Belt developments, has been voting to do just opposite.
The fact that the lid has come off already is sadly no surprise.
I think I will be returning to this subject quit a bit……………………….