Council guide set to focus on resident consultations

A guide is to be unveiled later this month aimed at addressing widespread problems in the way councils consult with residents.

The guide is the latest component of the Improvement Development Agency’s (IDeA) Connecting with Communities project, and follows a flurry of negative Audit Commission comprehensive performance assessment reports into council consultation efforts.

A key part is the first update in three years of MORI’s Feeling the Pulse report into council research, consultation and evaluation.

According to report co-compiler, MORI research director Simon Atkinson: ‘There’s no shortage of information or data within councils, the problem is that many authorities struggle to get the information used outside the organisation, or get top-level commitment from CEOs and leading members from the start. That’s what this [report] will be addressing.’

Atkinson said council PROs are increasingly being seen as key personnel in gaining not just external media coverage, but also top-table commitment for consultation efforts.

He indicated councils hoping to achieve the top ‘excellent’ rating in the next comprehensive performance assessments will need to look at how their consultation efforts can improve the lives of local people.

The guide also addresses how councils can best use technology, such as the intranet, to consult.

IDeA principal comms consultant Pascoe Sawyers said: ‘This is the start of a new approach for Connecting with Communities… to broaden the scope of what comms means to include consultation – a form of two-way communication.’

The consultation component is due to be unveiled online, at www.idea-knowledge. on 28 July, and has been designed by IDeA consultants Carol Grant and Marina Pirotta. Also included are examples of best practice, such as Hampshire County Council’s consultation over plans to introduce a six-term school year.

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