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Air quality campaigner calls for better consultation methods

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A member of the Save Peel Hall Campaign Group has called for better consultation techniques if Warrington Borough Council is going to receive ‘real and true feedback’ on important and serious issues like air quality, that affect thousands of residents.

Jon Parr’s call for better consultation has been prompted following an online survey by the borough council inviting residents to offer feedback on air quality.
Jon, who will be standing as an Independent candidate in this year’s local election said: “I have looked at this survey. There’s an expectation that everyone will read all the documentation and offer feedback. It’s understandable to expect residents will have say, 5-10 minutes to do a survey, very few however have an hour in their day to digest a handful of online material and then put their thoughts down in an email. Most people just won’t do it.”
“Air pollution, especially where Peel Hall is concerned, is a very serious issue and I fear that WBC won’t be receiving the real deal when it comes down to getting the true picture about residents’ concerns”
“These consultation processes have to be made easier if our council wants to encourage real and true feedback, and especially so with such a serious issue as air quality that is currently affecting thousands of residents. It’s so serious that it is attributed to hundreds of premature deaths every year. If WBC wants to receive the right information then it needs to get its act together and introduce much-needed changes when it comes down to engaging with its townsfolk”
Jon added: “With all the online tools now available at the council’s disposal it’s about time that an easier, more user-friendly format was introduced. Is WBC taking the issue of air quality and how we feel about it seriously enough and does it really care about what people have to say?”
The survey can be found at https://www.warrington.gov.uk/air-quality-action-plan-consultation
A Warrington Borough Council spokesperson said: “We work very hard to make all of our consultations as accessible and easy-to-understand as possible. However, documents such as our Air Quality Action Plan, which is so important to Warrington’s future, are often quite detailed, technical documents. It’s vital that we provide the public with as much information as possible, including supporting documents, to ensure they are able to provide informed responses.
“We are always on hand to offer assistance, and we provide contact details on our consultations web page so that people can get in touch if they have any questions or are unclear about anything.
“Our previous Air Quality Action Plan consultation included a face-to-face drop-in session. However, we have, of course, been unable to carry out such sessions on this occasion, due to the current restrictions. We did not want to delay the important work of updating the plan, so considered that the online method was the most efficient, practical and safest way to enable residents to make their views known at this time.
“Improving air quality in Warrington is a priority for the council and we are absolutely committed to engaging the public in this. The views of local people helped shaped our Air Quality Action Plan, which was adopted in 2018, and we are regularly revising and updating the plan – with the public’s help. Cleaner air in Warrington will benefit everyone, so we know how important it is that local people can continue to have their say on our plans.
“We are always seeking to further improve our consultations process, and we welcome and take on board all feedback.”

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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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