'Enhanced' public participation and the involvement of the general public of Salisbury in the South West Area Multi Modal Study : an assessment of Labour's 'modernised' approach to 'better' decision-making
When Labour took power in 1997, it all but abandoned the large scale road building plans of the previous Conservative administration and undertook a policy of 'integrated' transport which focused more on public transport as a solution to congestion. However, a number of roads projects survived, pending further review by a series of Multi Modal Studies (MMS). For the first time, a transport study would not be modal-specific. Around the same time, and following a particularly poor turnout at the ballot box, Labour began steps to 'modernise' democracy in the UK and encourage people to become more politically 'involved' through what became known as 'enhanced' participation methods. The Government believed that more public involvement would mean 'better' decisions were made. This thesis examines one of the MMS, the South West Area Multi Modal Study, which took place between April 2000 and May 2003. The central aim of the thesis is to assess the influence and success of 'enhanced' participation in encouraging the general public to become 'involved' in the study process. The study employs predominately quantitative methods of data collection and analysis, including the use of a questionnaire distributed to random addresses. The main findings are that, despite consultants employing 'enhanced' methods of participation, the majority of respondents were unaware of the study taking place. Because of this lack of interest, any decisions made based on the submissions of the public would have been significantly unrepresentative and in no means 'better'. The thesis also uncovered a degree of participation potential amongst respondents and a number of barriers that may encourage more of the general public to participate in the future. If these barriers are addressed 'enhanced' participation would appear to be a workable and useful tool in the Government's quest for a 'modernised social democracy' and 'better' decision making.