Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Public participation

The Public Participation (PP) has been an important component of the study to which all consortium members have contributed. For some of the study partners, PP at the level of market research has been sufficient to yield the primary data needed to the conjoint analysis or visualization models that have provided tools for interactive workshops and exhibitions. For others, focus groups, consultations and deliberative forums provided a valuable dialogue with participants. The result is a large body of data developed and expanded through the participatory process.

Overall, the benefits have been tangible for both the decision-makers and the public. Feedback at all levels (L1 - L4) has been very positive and to this extent it is highly likely that a more informed and engaged population can provide a positive input to local green spaces and the issues involved in managing them. PP has allowed green space practitioners and the public to appreciate their reciprocal difficulties and needs. Certainly, in the case of the deliberative exercises, participants have been empowered in ways not previously open to them, and people were able to participate in a more informed way.

Whether this is more democratic is, however, a moot point. Often the results from postal surveys and consultation exercises are skewed towards the articulate middle classes. At the very least, the process has given a greater say to those who would have been involved anyway, although use of door-to-door surveys and focus group recruitment procedures have ensured a wider representation. For the full potential of PP to be realised, municipalities will need to consider how best to collect and harness market research type data. Officials involved in the project felt that the very process of sharing information allows people to understand more fully how council decisions are made and that this in itself improves local democracy. The Brighton & Hove case study demonstrated the potential for long-term sustainable deliberation and how a group can be supported to uphold inclusively, equity and fairness.

Furthermore, the visualization and DSPs developed by the project demonstrate that there are innovative ways of attracting people to provide information. The Aberdeen partner's use of libraries, community centres and exhibitions as a means of getting the visual imagery to a wide audience is an innovative and valid use of technology. The PP has provided a direct input to the DSPs, which, in turn, are available to assist with PP in the future by virtue of their interactive design. The project has therefore addressed the objective of demonstrating means by which economic and visualisation techniques can be combined with public participation to inform decision support.

At the conclusion of this work package, the consortium had developed and applied a range of PP techniques covering the levels at which PP conventionally takes place. The benefits of PP in green space management have been detailed. Rather than just concluding that there is one level of PP which is to be preferred, the work suggests that different levels of PP are appropriate in different contexts, for different issues, institutions and potential outcomes. What does emerge strongly is the link between the availability of good information, the consultative skills and willingness of city councils to engage in genuine PP and the degree of engagement felt by many citizens.

Informations connexes

Reported by

University of Brighton
Gaudick Road, Eastbourne
BN20 7SP Brighton
United Kingdom