Corporate Consultation Strategy
Whenever we make a decision about improving or changing our services, we need to be confident the decision is properly informed by public opinion. Our Corporate Consultation Strategy tells you how we do this.
- Key elements of the strategy
- Link to Corporate Plan Priorities
- Complaint, change and modification
1. Strategy statement
1.1 The Uttlesford District Council Corporate Plan has four priorities:
- Putting residents first
- Active place-maker for our towns and villages
- Progressive custodian of our rural environment
- Champion for our district
1.2 Under the priority "putting residents first", the council is committed to being "a council that listens to and acts for residents". One of the key objectives of that priority is to "administer public consultations that are effective, accessible, timely and high quality".
1.3 Consultation, both within the council and between the council and its residents, is an essential process that must be undertaken in order to support and ultimately achieve this aim. It is enmeshed within all areas of the council as shown in the Uttlesford District Council Customer Charter which states "We will listen to, consider and learn from feedback we receive from our customers".
2. Aims of the strategy
2.1 The purpose of the strategy is to support the delivery of the council's consultation objectives. These objectives will enable it to engage more effectively with its community, helping residents and stakeholders to become more involved in shaping the services it provides and leading their communities. It sets out how the council will ensure the principles of good consultation are applied in future.
2.2 National priorities
There are some prominent national priorities that this strategy works towards:
- Central government is improving the way it consults by adopting a more proportionate and targeted approach. This is laid out in some guidance on consultation principles published on GOV.UK. All of these are relevant to engaging with people and businesses in the Uttlesford district.
- The Local Government Association (LGA) is a champion of the importance of engaging with residents at a time when public services are undergoing fundamental change and resources continue to diminish.. The LGA has published New Conversations a guide to effective engagement. This aims to help councils, like Uttlesford, to strengthen trust, build resilience and respond to today's challenges through high-quality engagement.
This strategy also plays an important part in supporting plans that aim to shape the district by re-engaging and empowering the community to be involved in decision making processes.
2.3 Local priorities
The objectives of effective consultation and engagement are to ensure that the council:
- stimulates closer dialogue with our communities
- encourages increased cross-service co-ordination
- promotes better use of financial resources
- ensures that consultation is inclusive and representative
- together with the consultation toolkit, provides guidance to members of the council
- together with the consultation schedule, provides guidance to members of the council
- meets our duty to be inclusive and accessible
- sets out actions the council will carry out to better co-ordinate and more effectively engage the community
- sets out how we will work in partnership with local and national organisations and groups to consult
These objectives are important as they aim to:
- improve the council's communication with its customers and develop a greater understanding of customer needs and wishes
- avoid duplication and repetition of consultations. To encourage best practice and avoid consultation fatigue
- make the council's consultation activities more cost-effective and where consultation is carried out in-house, to develop officers' expertise and working knowledge to ensure continuous improvement of the consultation process
- be committed to involving an ever increasing diverse population because we want to make sure that needs of all groups are taken into account when delivering services
- ensure that any consultation we do is clear, consistent, co-ordinated and of a high quality all across the council
- ensure there is full knowledge of past, present and future consultations and results where available
- obtain the best results from consultation by involving all relevant hard-to-reach and minority groups
- ensure that consultation within the council has real outcomes
- work together to provide better services to residents and value for money
3. Contextual information
3.1 Update overview
Initial release in 2010. Updated in 2015 and 2018.
3.2 Legislative context
None. However, the Doctrine of legitimate expectation (common law) should be considered whereby consultees have a right to expect a fair process which incorporates guidance and management promises. The legitimate expectation applies:
- when there has been a clear promise of consultation
- where official guidance or policies imply a promise to act in a particular way
- where there is a withdrawal of a benefit with significant impacts to be considered
- where the nature of the relationship would create unfairness if there were to be inadequate consultation
3.3 Local government context
3.4 Uttlesford District Council strategy history
Management of community engagement.
3.5 Related policies and corporate governance matters
The relates specifically to engagement in the Local Plan process.
Uttlesford District Council's Customer Charter sets out the general principles for engaging with all users of the council's services.
3.6 Strategy impact: resident and/or internal
This strategy impacts both internal and external plans, policies, procedures and controls. These in turn will affect the provision of services for residents across the district.
4. Key elements of the strategy
4.1 Scope of the strategy
All council staff, services provided and/or activities completed under the banner or in conjunction with Uttlesford District Council, wherever conducted, should comply with the requirements of this strategy.
The strategy defines the scope of consultation as used by Uttlesford District Council.
Consultation is the means by which we get a clearer picture of user and community views and aspirations. It can take many forms and in its broadest sense it is sometimes called the community engagement process.
Community engagement can involve quite different types of activity:
- Providing information - information relating to the authority and its services is given in a clear format that can easily be understood
- Being involved - proposals which are still at an early stage are given to members of the community or stakeholders to obtain their views
- Consultation - proposals which are at a quite developed stage are given to members of the community or stakeholders to obtain their views. We can also find out how satisfied they are with council services
- Empowerment - members of the community or stakeholders are given information, support, resources and advice that will enable them to take responsibility in the delivery of services.
4.2 Requirements of strategy
The strategy sets out why the council is required to consult. Residents benefit in a number of ways from the council consulting with them including:
- opportunity to influence decisions and actions that affect their lives
- opportunity to express their views, concerns and suggest service improvements
- increased understanding and involvement with the council The council also benefits from consulting with the community through:
- better decision making
- better understanding of the needs of local people and how to meet them
- opportunity to make services more relevant and effective
It is important to ensure that when we do consult there is a clear purpose to seeking the views of our community.
5. Roles and responsibilities
Role: Assistant Director Corporate Services
Responsibility: Ensuring adoption and adherence to strategy
Role: Principal Website and Consultation Officer
Responsibility: Implementation of strategy
Role: Website and Consultation Officer
Responsibility: Implementation of strategy
6. Key contacts
Lead Officer: Principal Website and Consultation Officer
Service Area/Directorate: Corporate Services
7. Link to Corporate Plan Priorities
Putting residents first
Be a council that listens to and acts for residents:
Active place-maker for our towns and villages
Progressive custodian of our rural environment
Champion for our district
8. Strategy monitoring
The Principal Website and Consultation Officer will follow the work plan which includes checking that the activities undertaken are in line with this strategy.
The consultation strategy will be:
- reviewed and re-issued every three years
- integrated with the Corporate Plan which is reviewed annually
9. Complaint, change and modification
Via corporate complaints process.
If legislation or local policy changes.
Next scheduled policy review due before 31 December 2021.