Consultation is a very important part of the event planning process, and of the evaluation phase also. Consultations are essentially meetings in which you discuss your proposals for an event or gather feedback following an event. These consultations can be attended by any number of interested parties, otherwise known as stakeholders. These stakeholders might include members of the local authority, core event staff, venue/site managers, event beneficiaries (i.e. members of a local community group or a charity) and local residents.
In some cases they will be relatively formal meetings but in others they may be more informal; the type of event being discussed will dictate which of these approaches is more appropriate.
There is no set format for consultation but here are some guidelines to consider;
- Think about where and when the consultation will take place, it should be amply proportioned and easily reached by all those attending.
- Give plenty of notice when inviting people to take part so that people can work it into their schedules – the better attended the consultation sessions are the more constructive they will be.
- Send all attendees any relevant documentation in advance and a program stating which topics are up for discussion, this will give them the opportunity prepare any questions they might have.
- There may be a large amount of discussion at a consultaion session and it can be very difficult to recall exactly who said what and when. Consider appointing someone to take notes during the session or use a recoding device such as a dictaphone or a camcorder. Remember to let people know that they are being recorded at the start of each session.
- It is possible for discussions to become quite heated, particularly when members of the public are attending. It is important that you maintain control of the session while giving everyone the opportunity to have their say. Stay calm, speak in a clear voice and avoid raising your voice to speak over people. Encourage people to speak one at a time and to wait their turn to voice their opinions.
- At the end of the session thank everyone for their contributions. You should write up the results of the session for you own records and offer to send it to those that attended and those that weren’t able to attend.
For any medium to large scale event, you are strongly advised to notify the police, fire and ambulance services directly, in addition to providing the information required in an event permission or licence application form. The emergency services need to ensure that the event does not pose operational problems, either at the scene or in the surrounding areas.
The level of consultation is dependent on the location of the event and the impact on its surroundings. As part of the application process, comments may be sought from relevant internal departments and external departments, as well as Police and the emergency services, who may contact you directly for further information. There may be requirements for you to liaise with local residents, or your local Park Forum or Friends Group. Your Borough will be able to advise you on your requirements for consultation, and provide key contacts. See the Borough Guide for further information.