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'Consultation' – Poor Practice and Poor Questionnaire Design

24th July 2017 @ 10:10am – by Webteam
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Update ... We are aware of the flurry of activity on Facebook and we are in receipt of emails that have been forwarded to us. The article below does not question the principle of safeguarding at all, rather it questions why the enclosure of at least +90% of the open space is required to achieve that objective. Similarly, it brings into question why such scant regard has been given to the principles of our Neighbourhood Plan. Regrettably, any social scientist would confirm the poor quality of the questionnaire design and that there was no opportunity to add further comment. Regrettably, it is fact that no representatives were in attendance at the 'drop-in' to answer specific questions and/or concerns regarding this 'consultation'.
In this respect, we will not be removing this post but thank you for your inputs.

This member of the Webteam attended the 'Consultation Drop In' held at the Library this morning. This is in relation to the erection of a 1.8m perimeter fence, the Lawful Development Certificate having already been signed off and on which we have reported previously. A further drop in session will be held this afternoon between 4-6pm.

Whilst Tattenhall Online remains apolitical, it is felt that the level of disquiet witnessed this morning should be reported upon. What was witnessed could barely be described as a 'consultation' and the questionnaire design, frankly, was far from best practice with very limited questions and absolutely no scope to add further comment whatsoever.

Many residents this morning were left frustrated, irritated and even cynical (... 'a done deal' ... was openly voiced)

Moreover, when I popped in, no school governor and/or representative was present, nor were any Parish Councillors or our own Ward Councillor in attendance (that is not to say that they might have chosen to attend later in the day). The CWaC colleagues in attendance, Rebecca and Sharon, though absolutely delightful, knew nothing in regard to the detail of the proposal, rather they were present simply to facilitate the completion of the online questionnaire. Whilst Carolyn Davis was in attendance as Senior Manager, Education Infrastructure, she too was reticent in answering any questions.

Some of the questions raised this morning and which remain unanswered were:

  • Why is it necessary to fence what appears to be at least 92% of this open space within the village. The safeguarding of pupils at the school could be achieved with a significantly lesser % of the open space being enclosed. At worst, some members of the community felt that this represented 'land grabbing'.
  • What are the minimum and maximum square metre requirements relating to school playing fields for a school of our size (acknowledging that the school is expanding). No-one was able to provide those answers and one can only presume from the shaded area shown on the aerial photograph that was in circulation, that the school has opted for the maximum upper limit that is possible and which appears to be as high as 92%.
  • From where will the shortfall be funded if respondents opt for the more expensive version of the perimeter fence – two options were presented in photographic format and within the online questionnaire – one was costed at +£36,000 and the other at +£11,000.
  • Why has the school failed to take account of the Tattenhall Neighbourhood Plan in which this area of land is designated 'amenity space'. That 92% of that amenity space is to be fenced demonstrates scant regard for our Neighbourhood Plan and shows a lack of understanding and/or compromise. Had the school engaged in dialogue and/or polite conversation earlier, then there might have been a more acceptable and satisfactory outcome for all stakeholders. As it is, those present this morning felt that they were being pressed on how the fenced area might be marshalled and/or patrolled if it was available as amenity space before dusk.
  • Why are only 4 hours being devoted to this 'Consultation Drop-In' (9-11am and 4-6pm on 24 July). Reasonably, many working parents cannot get back to the village for 6pm and many residents who live within the village are already on holiday. As a Webteam Reporter, it appeared to be wholly inappropriate to hold the 'Consultation Drop-Ins' within the very limited space available at the Library – the entire room was heaving. Realistically too, might it not have been more appropriate to have repeated the process on another designated day too, thus ensuring maximum access to the process.
  • Why is there absolutely no opportunity on the questionnaire to raise further concerns. 'Consultation' is ordinarily a two-way process, but this 'consultation' is retrospective i.e. the Lawful Development Certificate is already in place and has been signed off by Fiona Hore. When pressed on this, CWaC provided 2 email addresses for residents to email further questions/concerns direct – they are Rebecca.Irving@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk and Sharon.Marshall@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

We will keep you informed.

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