“The issue of whether we have the Wales we want, has to be answered through a two-way dialogue with the public,” Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner has said at a speech at the Welsh Local Government Association Annual Conference today.

Highlighting examples of good work taking place across Wales using digital and more traditional approaches to involvement and engagement, the Commissioner continued:

“As Commissioner, I am very clear that business as usual is no longer an option. The Act places an obligation on public bodies to carry out sustainable development through the five ways of working. These include planning for the long term, preventing problems before they arise or get worse, integrating their services across sector, collaborating with the right partners, through the Public Service Board function, and crucially, involving people in their decision making.

“The average person is not interested in service boundaries and funding provision, yet the language we insist on using to talk about the public we serve, and the public sector insistence on constructing a process, completely dehumanises public services.  We are experts at asking the right questions, to tick the right boxes, but often missing the point.

“It has been really interesting going out myself over the last few months and engaging with people across Wales to talk about the Act, and hearing stories of what is ultimately miscommunication and what can only be described as dis-engagement.

“One example that has stayed with me is where several people commented on a recent consultation by council on the closure of three schools. They asked parents if they were black, white, gay, male, female etc. but failed to ask if any of the parents couldn’t drive. It turned out that the school was only accessible by car.

“There is a real need to simplify, and bring things right back to a community, ground-up approach and in my role I hope to take us on a new journey that has a clear route that we all can take together.”