Agenda item

Consultation and Engagement Strategy 2022 - 2025

The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the draft consultation and engagement strategy 2022 - 2025, which will be considered at Cabinet on 15 February 2022.


The Committee is RECOMMENDED to


a)       consider the contents of the draft strategy and provide feedback to the Cabinet lead member for corporate services, the corporate director for customers organisational development and resources and supporting officers; and

b)       endorse the content of the strategy.


The Committee considered a report which provided an overview of the draft consultation and engagement strategy 2022 - 2025, and was asked to provide any comments, suggestions or scrutiny recommendations on the draft Strategy, to the Cabinet meeting on 15th February 2022.


The Cabinet Member for Corporate Services introduced the report and informed Members that the strategy set out a new approach to consultation and engagement at Oxfordshire County Council, putting residents at the heart of decision-making to support strong active and inclusive communities.


There were two key aims: - i) to engage with and listen to residents and other partners in a more active and inclusive way and ii) to widen the Council’s reach so that diverse communities and audiences could be listened to.


Reference was made to a detailed action plan, which had been developed, with clear targets and measures, to ensure that progress was on track and there was a continued commitment to two-way engagement with residents. This would be updated on an annual basis


Points Raised by the Committee


·       The list of people consulted should include the working class and those who had English as a second language. In response, Members were informed that community groups would be consulted and those in the community who were seldom heard.

·       There should be a reflective statement in the strategy whereby reference could be made to the areas in the past, the Council have been criticised on, and the improvements which would be made to the Council’s consultation and engagement with residents.

·       There were many consultations which operated within a timeframe, on a particular topic, could consideration be given to a general consultation which took place throughout the year asking residents for comments/ views on the Council. Reference was made to ‘Let’s Talk Oxfordshire’ which gave residents an opportunity to comment on the Council and to receive feedback.

·       There needed to be a cultural shift on consultation, as sometimes consultation took place, for the sake of consultation. Residents could be asked for their views on what they wanted the Council to do. A framework on consultation needed to be built into the planning process of projects.

·       Local Members should be included prior to consultations to ensure local expertise and knowledge was utilised and to keep local Members informed. Additionally, local Members should be included in the design of consultations.

·       Discussion took place on the term “customer” and Members were informed that this was the preferred term of officers from customer services for residents   

·       The target of 10% respondents to consultations was the guide on best practise for engagement with residents and Members felt this should be more ambitious.

·       The timelines for improvements to be made were ambitious but the Communications Team had been allocated extra resource to achieve the improvements.



The Chair informed Members that the comments and recommendations of this Committee would be referred to Cabinet for consideration at their meeting of 15 February 2022 and that Cabinet would be asked to respond to the Committee.


RESOLVED  That Cabinet be asked to consider the following:


(i) due consideration be given to the role of consultation and engagement as a key part of an ongoing democratic process that involves listening to residents, not solely in order to cavass views and determine preferences, but also to ensure that their voices are heard as citizens,

(ii) that an indicative protocol should be produced to indicate which strategies will be deployed when and

(iii) that, as an addendum to an indicative protocol, a specific, detailed strategy be drawn up to include Active Travel schemes, given their effect on local areas. Such a strategy should include consideration of:

         the capacity of the Council to deliver representative polling in line with the British Polling Council standards, as set out in the updated Department for Transport Network Management Duty Guidance,

         consideration of the stakeholders that the DfT recommends Councils should engage with at an early stage of active travel projects in the Network Management Duty Guidance,

         how active travel plans should be co-designed with local residents and businesses,

         transparent data collection and sharing with the public for active travel projects with open data standards,

         how live project updates are communicated in a timely and accurate manner to the public,

         how to ensure consultations are secure and robust against potential interference,

         whether the existing digital tools the County Council has access to have the required technical features to deliver the heightened communication, consultation, engagement and digital security needs, as set out above,

         how best to engage with local councillors, bearing in mind their specific knowledge of a local area.

Supporting documents: