Nik Butler: Consultation evokes Greek myth and 1980s computer games

JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001
JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001

Following up on last week’s thoughts let us look at one particular machination of civil administration which may contribute towards electoral apathy.

In order to partake in a consultation process whether it regards Horsham District Planning Frameworks or Broadbridge Heath Quadrant master plans requires a Sisyphean effort to constantly restate a position in regards to the documentation.

As an aside; Sisyphus was compelled to roll a boulder uphill only to see it roll back down again as punishment for his deceitfulness. What that means in relation to public experiences I make no comparison. The effort in commenting on the plans, be it for or against, is barely a user friendly experience in comparison to other web forms.

The presence provided at http://horsham.limehouse.co.uk/portal/ contains a myriad of links, and tabs, and buttons, all of which lead me to believe that the original developers of the website may have had a little too much experience in text based adventuring featuring dark caves with exits in the North, East and South. Indeed for many users it feels that their comments, having been placed where they felt appropriate, have been subsequently eaten by a Grue.

The frustration of the website is compounded by the reality that every comment created in the Draft proposal has subsequently been abandoned in the final submission.

Nothing is carried forward from one document to the other. In effect a campaign’s energies are wasted on the first draft of a document. There is no email, no update, no contact from the website asking for contributors to renew their online submissions. Again if this were a website providing feedback for commercial products it would quickly succumb to social media pressure to improve usability and the coherency for comments across a document.

Though that may not be the preference for the current administration. As it stands the many hundreds of comments generated for the Draft documents are now discounted in the final submission.

Unless those who left their comments can be encouraged to return to the website and repeat their sentiments in the relative locations. From the perspective of a recipient for this form of democracy it is possible to understand just how broken the system appears and how easily it leads to despondency and rejection of interest.

If our Councillors, and our administration, are willing to embrace systems which hobble interaction and contribution then why should the public engage with them?