Has anyone done any work with local councils on community engagement activities?
I have recently reviewed (on a voluntary basis) a report prepared by a consultant on the community engagement activity undertaken by them on behalf of the council around planned "improvements" to the foreshore area that is obviously heavily used by various members of the community. The community engagement project appeared poorly designed to me with little effort put into who or what would constitute a representative sample in the first place and what demographic measures would be useful for understanding which groups may have had differing opinions and hence, how to address those differences. The ad hoc way of collecting people's comments did not allow for allocation to any particular group. The community, as is probably common, has no trust in the council, thinks the process lacks transparency etc.
When I did a bit of a literature search on engagement activities the publications seemed to be around groups of individuals with certain medical conditions, so quite specific, rather than around highly variable communities all with different needs and desires.
I am concerned that the council (and probably lots of councils) have spent a lot of money on these types of activities including data collection that ends up not meeting their needs and adding to the lack of trust by the community. But with little extra effort could provide the council with very rich data.
Any pointers to suitable references or other thoughts would be much appreciated.