North Tyneside Council’s Elected Mayor and cabinet will next week (Monday, September 14) be asked to agree the approach to ensure it continues to listen to and consider residents’ views in its decision-making.
A meeting of the cabinet on Monday will be asked to support the implementation of one corporate engagement strategy that will guide all council services – including those delivered by partners on behalf of the local authority.
The strategy aims to help the public understand the different ways they can have their say, and to understand what they can expect from the different levels of public involvement. Each of the activities in the overall Community Conversation programme will have a colour code to support understanding.
Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn said: “North Tyneside Council is a high performing authority that has made a commitment to continue to be a ‘listening council’ that delivers for its residents and communities by involving them in decision-making.
“Residents’ views and priorities are already helping to shape the Council Plan as the strategic framework which sets the direction of the local authority and its services.
“In common with all local authorities, we are going to have to make significant changes to respond to the increasingly challenging financial pressures.
“By working together with our residents and having a two-way conversation, we keep people informed about our challenges and encourage them to share their ideas and comments. We then feed back to them the outcomes of our considerations which will be the foundation of the decision-making for the tough times ahead.”
There are a range of statutory requirements which the council must meet in relation to engagement. The over-arching obligation on the local authority to consult arises from the Local Government Act 1999 Best Value Duty, which requires the organisation to consult on questions of policy or strategic decisions, as part of its requirement to secure continuous improvement. However, there are other statutory requirements for engagement, including responsibilities around equalities and diversity legislation, the statutory framework that guides its role as a landlord to its tenants; and duties in relation to looked after children.
The strategy introduces core principles that all engagement by council services must adhere to:
- Inclusive: Making sure that everyone will be able to engage in the process.
- Clear: Be clear on our aims of each engagement activity from the outset, and the extent to which residents can be involved.
- Integrated: Ensuring that engagement activities are joined up with the relevant decision-making processes.
- Tailored: We will aim to better understand our audience and use different methods appropriately to enable and encourage them to be involved.
- Feedback: We will give feedback, through agreed channels, when we have completed our activity.
- Timely: we will ensure that we give, where we can, sufficient notice to make opportunities available to all. We will take into account those times when it is more appropriate to engage depending on our target audience.
The different opportunities to access information and get involved are brought together under four themes within the strategy that also aims to help the public understand what they can expect from the different levels of engagement.
Informs: These opportunities will promote/signpost residents and other relevant stakeholders, to information about North Tyneside Council and its services (and how to access them), key decisions and the delivery of the Council Plan.
Consults: These activities will involve residents and service users when significant changes or new approaches are being considered, so we can ensure that we listen to their views in a timely and efficient way before final decisions are taken. When we consult we will make it clear what questions we are asking and how the responses will be used.
Involves: These activities will provide opportunities for residents and service users to be engaged in a creative and innovative way to develop solutions and to shape the way forward.
Collaborate: Activities will involve people working together in a more in-depth way. The interests and expertise of those individuals involved will be considered to help deliver the required outcomes. Some of these activities will focus on empowering our residents to create and deliver solutions.
A quarterly Engagement Board will bring together representatives of the council and its partners to monitor how it is delivering on its core principles and to forward plan future activities.