5-year plan to ensure residents' views are being prioritised

Posted on: Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Newark and Sherwood District Council is set to update their Consultation and Engagement Strategy to publicly demonstrate its commitment to ensure communities' and stakeholders' views are at the forefront of decision-making.  If adopted by Councillors at the District Council’s Cabinet meeting on 4 October, the strategy will guide the work of the District Council for the next five years.

The updated strategy outlines the District Council's approach to, and supporting principles of, consultation and engagement. It has been developed to ensure local communities and stakeholders such as residents, tenants and businesses can influence the future of where they live by delivering change and informing service developments.

The 5-year strategy is supported by an action plan which ensures that the key elements of the strategy are translated into actions. The strategy will also be shared with consultants and third parties working on the District Council's behalf.

Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: "Engagement and consultation are vital to ensure that our residents and communities are at the heart of everything we do as a Council.  Consultation has too often been regarded as a ‘tick box’ exercise because it occurs too late in processes, or it is seeking to affirm a proposal without alternatives. I want us to move more toward early engagement to shape proposals, moving away from standard surveys and toward generating meaningful dialogue. This cannot realistically occur on every issue or item, but it can properly help to shape strategies and policies.

"I want to make sure that engagement with our communities is a continuous process which facilitates and encourages opportunities for residents to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences with us. This valuable information will, in turn, be used to inform changes and developments to current services, projects, initiatives, policies and strategies.  Therefore, I am pleased that this strategy is being presented to Cabinet for adoption."

Five levels of community engagement are recommended in the Strategy, ranging from low involvement (information sharing for example on national policy which cannot be changed) to high involvement (devolved responsibility for residents to choose a direction of travel). The engagement approach taken each time will vary based on the nature of the service and the particular drivers of engagement.

Community engagement allows the District Council to maintain an understanding of local priorities and needs. This understanding is then used to influence service design and delivery positively. It also enables the Council to adapt and improve ways of working by utilising feedback and knowledge gained to better meet residents' needs.