I accept Alan Tate's strictures on my apparently contradictory attitudes towards public consultation. While I still believe that 'opinions are 10 a penny' (and nowhere is this more obvious than in the use of poorly attended or bad-tempered public meetings to decide complex issues of development and local amenity), I cannot agree that only professionals should decide these things.
There is an urgent need to develop ways of integrating the expertise of development professionals with the expressed needs and long-term interests of the communities who have to live with the results. This is probably best done by deliberative, evidence-based, decisionmaking, such as citizens' juries.
But these processes are timeconsuming, costly, and require organisational skills and sensitivities currently in short supply.
Good consultation is a longterm investment, and can recoup its costs through usersatisfaction and sense of ownership, both of the process and the final results.
Ken Worpole, London N4