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Question and Statements from the Public
To take any questions or statements from members of the Public.
No questions or statements were received from members of the public.
Declarations of Interest
Members are asked to declare the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests in respect of any item of business to be considered at the meeting.
No Members declared the existence of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests in respect of any item of business to be considered at the meeting.
The Committee is asked to confirm as a true record the Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 17 January 2023 (attached) and to authorise the Chair to sign them.
The Committee was asked to confirm as a true record the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 17 January 2023.
A member highlighted that minute 18c) contained a spelling error – Bourne Hall was incorrectly written as Borne Hall. The Committee confirmed that the minutes were otherwise a true record and authorised the Chair to sign them, following rectification of the spelling error.
To set out proposals on how the Council will better engage with residents to receive feedback on services and better understand residents’ needs
Following consideration, The Committee unanimously resolved to:
(1) Agree to support Officers in carrying out the engagement activities set out in the report, incorporating Member feedback.
The Committee received a report setting out proposals on how the Council will better engage with residents to receive feedback on services and better understand residents’ needs
The Committee considered the following matters:
a) Online Accessibility: A Member asked how Officers intended to receive feedback from residents who do not have online access or from those who face challenges operating touch screens, particularly with respect to online forms and surveys. The Member suggested that Officers could converse with Citizens Advice for information on residents’ experiences with the Council’s online services. The Head of Housing and Community agreed that the Council’s relationship with Citizens Advice, along with its partnerships with other organisations such as the Good Company, were valuable for receiving feedback from residents. He stated that Officers are always committed to learning – he explained how a consultant with loss-of-sight was recently brought in to provide advice on the accessibility of the Council’s website.
b) Resident Feedback through Councillors: A Member pointed out that Councillors frequently and regularly receive comments and views from residents through surgeries and door-knocking. The Member suggested that an effective approach of receiving feedback from residents is to approach them rather than asking them to approach the Council. The Interim Director of Corporate Services recognised that Councillors have a unique relationship with their constituents. He stated that there are currently no mechanisms in place to effectively capture the word-of-mouth feedback Councillors receive and suggested that it could be a matter for investigation. He advised that when Councillors receive complaints from their constituents, to pass those comments onto the relevant Heads of Service and other senior Officers where appropriate.
c) Engaging with Communities: A Member enquired as to what was meant by ‘hard to reach’. The Head of Housing and Community suggested that the term could be rephrased, considering that the term could be construed as unfairly putting the responsibility of receiving engagement on the communities in question. He explained that the term ‘hard to reach’ had been used to describe communities that the Council had historically found difficulty in engaging with. He suggested that a change of mindset and an adjustment of technique would be required in order to reach certain communities more effectively – for instance, the approach taken to engaging with the elderly would be different to that taken to engage with the young.
d) Moving away from the Citizens Panel model: Members wished to express their approval of moving away from the Citizens Panel model, agreeing that Citizens Panels are difficult to manage and are not conducive to effectively capturing a diverse range of views and feedback from the community.
e) Engaging with Young People in the Borough: The Chair asked how the Council might better engage with young people. It was noted that attending Schools poses a challenge on account of schools’ busy timetables. The Interim Director of Corporate Services suggested that Career Fairs are a great place to reach out to young people. A Member stated that there a large number ... view the full minutes text for item 4.