They make a number of recommendations:
- Cabinet should consider whether the Council should adopt a code of practice to guide how future consultation exercises are undertaken. As an interim, the Joint Chief Executives should draw up and communicate to all officers’ clear guidance about how to conduct a consultation.
- Staffing Committee should review the current Council structure to ensure that we have sufficient senior management support particularly at a time when the Council is undertaking significant projects and other areas of work.
- The Joint Chief Executives should take a view on whether any training, capability or disciplinary action should be taken in respect of the findings of this report.
- A document naming convention should be established for all documents saved by officers. The Council should expedite the introduction of SharePoint for document version management.
- The processes for publishing on the Council website should be reviewed with the introduction of a two person check for any changes prior to publication When developing the timeline for future consultation exercises part of the process should include the user testing of documents and ensure wording has been reviewed as plain English.
These recommendations, especially when coupled with the decision to ask East Hampshire council to host and manage the plan making process, look sensible.
The key passage in what went wrong and why is:
During an informal conversation a senior planning policy officer mentioned the call to the Joint Chief Executive, Daryl Phillips [DP]. DP stated that he did not see it as a major issue, that there was no need to do anything at the time but that it could be reported as a factor to take into consideration when interpreting the findings from the consultation.
A senior planning policy officer subsequently decided that the response form provided online should be amended to include Dogmersfield and Crookham Village. Other officers, in accordance with the senior planning officer’s instructions, updated a word version of the document and this was published on 6 th January. The form that was updated and published was an earlier draft version of the document and apart from that new wording including Dogmersfield and Crookham Village, contained a number of other differences to the previous published form.
It will be interesting to see the Staffing Committee’s view on the Council structure and whether they recommend a strengthening of the senior management team.
We are slightly disappointed that their report has not addressed some of the wider issues we raised in our submission to the process.
It is now more important than ever that we get a good Local Plan published by the end of the year, or there is a significant risk the Government will step in and do the Local Plan for us.
We urge everyone to respond to the new consultation, and and ask Hart to create a brownfield solution to meet the housing needs of the young and elderly in Hart. We have created a dedicated consultation page, updated our two guides to responding to the consultation and they are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.
2 Minute version: