Harrow Council for Justice
a campaigning national organisation - promoting the principle of 'different but equal'

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It can only be good that authorities try to consult the residents about their services at a time when the available resources need to be sharply focused on the clearly identified community needs, especially the needs of those who have less favourable circumstances.

Whilst any initiative to consult the recipients of the council services is helpful but what would really help is an ongoing and well structured community consultation, especially since any biting effects of the country’s financial situation are going to be long lasting.

The customer satisfaction surveys, street stalls and the use of highly institutionalised voluntary/ third sector to glean residents’ views about the council provisions are no substitute to a healthy and transparent community consultation process to collectively consult the community.

For example, the archives of the L B of Harrow would confirm the benefits of the ‘community consultative committee’, chaired by a senior member, where the local grass-root community came together, developed a shared understanding of the issues involved and then collectively responded to the council agenda. The ownership of the decisions made was much wider.

Sadly, the simple and rather effective mode of consultation where the people concerned are in a position to directly address the matters that affect them has been overtaken by relying on the sophisticated umbrella organisations to represent the remote communities.

It is about time to recognise that the communities are now more capable to take charge of their own affairs as well as to directly and collectively become involved in decision-making through a well constructed community consultation platform that the authorities can facilitate.


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