Agenda item

Consultation and Engagement annual report

Scrutiny Committee is asked to note the consultation and engagement carried out by the council during 2022-2023 and make any comments to Cabinet for consideration.


Cabinet member for Corporate Services, Policy and Programmes introduced the report. Present in the room was the Communications and Engagement Manager, to answer any questions raised. The Head of Corporate Services was also online to take questions.

The report was the first of its kind, so the team were interested in Scrutiny committee’s suggestions. It covered both South and Vale. You can see the range of consultation and engagements. It was worth noting that consultations are statutory for the councils, whereas engagements are voluntary reaching out exercises and align with the Corporate Plan. There was desire to innovate and use different resources to reach out to different sectors of the community. The Cabinet member commended the team for their work.


The main questions and comments raised by scrutiny committee were:


  • A member asked how do consultation results follow through to the next stage consistently? The officer responded that it varies by consultation. For the Joint Local Plan (JLP), a report was produced and a recommendation from an independent officer. Planning Policy team were involved in analysis of the JLP response and produced a consultation statement on the website including officer responses. Head of Corporate Services added that we could strengthen the “what happened next” part of the analysis. He also mentioned the team will be using a new and more engaging software.
  • Diversity and Inclusion strategy – of 234 people, how many were from diverse groups? The demographic profile was included in the report but some respondents were representing groups. The officer responded that they had created a database of 273 equalities organisations across our districts for direct contact on consultation and engagement.
  • The officer explained they were hoping to broaden consultations by going to cafes, schools etc to speak to people. It was tricky to get young people to engage.
  • It was confirmed that Inclusion and Diversity Champions were officers across the council teams.
  • Committee commended the report and supported the direction.
  • A member suggested focus groups and panels to help engage those difficult to reach groups, although recognition given to resourcing issues. Cabinet member suggested a targeted approach to engage young people on specific sections/themes that mean something to them. The officer did raise that always consulting the same people via a focus group was not ideal.
  • Ethnicity slide – on the lower % figures, can we try to understand the granular details of those figures in future reporting?
  • Cabinet member for Healthy Communities was invited to speak by the chair, and she added that this was a living document and we can always do better. The engagement was promising, and the report was a good start. Cabinet member cited some examples of outreach she was involved in. She said members can have more direct involvement in engagement in their daily work. Cabinet member for Corporate Services alerted members to the fact that the full data on individual consultation and engagement exercises can be found in their individual reports.
  • Committee discussed demographics data, which was expensive but was being considered.
  • A member suggested taking feedback at events, not afterwards.
  • Head of Corporate Services saw the importance of reaching out to talk to people. He added that in his previous work, focus groups weren’t successful. He added that the engagement team was three people.



Committee noted the report. Committee’s comments to Cabinet were as follows:

  1. We should link consultations to our Corporate Plan themes – the golden thread concept.
  2. Committee supported the direction to reach underserved residents, and to apply a deeper approach where we could afford to.

Officer and Cabinet members were thanked.


Supporting documents: