A masterclass from Sheffield City Council in suppressing consultation responses by making it difficult to respond

Sheffield Council are “consulting” on a major public realm redevelopment (Knowledge Gateway) in the City Centre, they’ve made it very difficult to respond by hiding the details of how to respond in a pdf, in a zip file, under the business section, of the local tourist information website.

This is how the council have advertised the ‘consultation’:

Official Sheffield Council consultation portal.

Sheffield Council: Published a press release about the scheme on official press release page.

  • No way of participating is provided other than attending an exhibition.
  • Doesn’t include any drawings or detail.
  • Doesn’t link to any drawings or detail.
  • Doesn’t list a consultation closing date.
  • Provided a link to the Sheffield City Region website with the exact same information.
  • Hold an exhibition in the city centre during working hours and for 2 Saturday mornings

There will be public and trader consultations over the next few weeks. Exhibitions featuring the proposals will be held at Sheffield Hallam’s Sheffield Institute of Arts (the former head post office) café from Monday 13 February to Saturday 18 February 2017 (9am – 6pm, weekdays; 9am to 4PM) and then at the Site Gallery cafe, Paternoster Row from Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 February 2017, (10am – 6pm weekdays; Saturday, 10am – 1pm.)

Sheffield City Region: Published a news item on their website.

  • Everything above applies, no further information! Straight copy paste.

Welcome to Sheffield (tourist information website)

  • Created a page under the ‘Developments in Sheffield’ page, under the ‘Business Sheffield’ section for the consultation.
  • Includes a link to a zip file labelled ‘Download The Knowledge Gateway Exhibition Materials’
  • Include 8 PDFs in the zip file, some of which are layout drawings, some of which are exhibition panels.
  • In the final pdf, include details on how to respond to the consultation including the closing date.
  • Include an email address and postal address for responses.
  • Don’t publish a comments form. Copies were only available at the city centre exhibition.
Hidden on a tourist information website, under the business section, within a zip file, in a pdf.

A masterclass in suppressing consultation responses by making it difficult to respond.

1 reply on “A masterclass from Sheffield City Council in suppressing consultation responses by making it difficult to respond”

Just remembered that I’d sent this email a few months ago, no reply. It’s about Traffic Regulation Order consultations.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Matt Turner <>
Date: 14 December 2016 at 12:34
Subject: Traffic Regulation Order consultations
To: [email protected]


I’d like to request that when you run a Traffic Regulation Order (or similar) consultation that you add it to your consultation website here:

My understanding is that at the moment you need to be on a special mailing list, live in the area, or know about the consultation via some other means to find out about and ultimately see what the consultation is about and the proposals.

For instance, I know that there is a TRO consultation ongoing for the Charter Square redevelopment because someone mentioned it to me, however I have no idea how to go about seeing the consultation documents other than walking down to the street and looking at notices on lamp posts, or perhaps asking at the town hall information desk!

In Kent, they publish all of their consultations on their consultation website (screenshot below), I think it’d be great for accountability, transparency and public engagement if you did the same.


Matt Turner

Kent TRO Consultations

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