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The Strategy for Community Engagement 2019-2024, outlines how we will improve our engagement with local communities. The strategy, which adopts that National Standards for Community Engagement, aims to strengthen local decision making so that local communities are represented in the decisions the Council makes and during the planning and development of Council services.

“Lack of trust in the Council is one of the biggest barriers to successful community engagement” said Emily Webb, Stakeholder Engagement Officer. “To empower communities, we need greater transparency in decision making. Good community engagement needs to be made a priority.”

The strategy outlines the principles that employees should follow whenever they engage with communities. This includes involving local people earlier in the decision making process in order to ensure that decisions are based on a shared understanding of community needs and issues. The strategy states that the contributions of local people, members and officers should be valued equally in decision making and service design, regardless of whether their contributions are based on experience or expertise.

The Strategy sets out a number of priorities for the next five years. Of particular note, is the move toward a more collaborative, rather than consultative, approach to community engagement in which communities will have more opportunities to co-design services. The Strategy also makes a commitment to providing communities with feedback which outlines how their contributions have influenced decisions made by the Council and what has changed or improved as a result.

“Local people have told us that they feel community engagement has no impact on decision making” said Emily. “It is clear that gaining the trust of local people, through better collaboration, is the key ingredient to drive change in the way the Council engages with communities.”

The strategy is available to read on the Council's website.