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Consultation and engagement is a permanent and valued part of our approach to involving service users and the community in finding out what you, the public, want from your local services.

As local residents, you can help us to improve the quality and effectiveness of the services that we provide and you can significantly influence the decisions that we take.

Our approach to engagement

Engaging with our communities and residents is vital to the Council in planning and structuring our services to meet your needs. We believe that the quality of our engagement should be consistently high for anyone wishing to get involved.

To help us achieve a consistently high standard of engagement the Council adopts the following approach:

Clarity and Honesty

When engaging with people the Council will be clear about why we are doing this (for example to help us make a decision or to provide us with valuable information) and will be honest about what can be achieved through people’s involvement. The Council will also be clear about what information gained from engagement will be used for.

Communication

Throughout the engagement process we will communicate with and listen to those involved in or having an interest in the issue (or issues) the engagement concerns. Key to this will be the provision of clear information to explain the engagement process at every stage, why we are seeking involvement and what the benefits of involvement will be to people and the Council.

Who we engage with

The Council recognise that when engaging with people, it is vital that the people affected by or having an interest in the issue (or issues) are involved. We also recognise the importance of people being able to bring issues to our attention and welcome the opportunity to respond.

Inclusion

When undertaking engagement the Council believe that everyone is entitled to have their say and get involved. We therefore make every effort to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get involved; and that people are not prevented or put off from doing so. The Council reserve the right, however, to take appropriate steps against abusive or prejudiced behaviour and will not condone discrimination of any kind.

Timescales

To help give people the opportunity to get involved, the Council will set timescales that are appropriate to the issue(s) the engagement concerns.

The Council will also take steps to clearly communicate the timescales associated with engagement.

Engagement Methods

The Council recognise that there are numerous ways of engaging with people (for example surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc). The Council therefore aims to ensure that the method (or combination of methods) used is appropriate to the audience (the people taking part) and the issue (or issues) to which the engagement concerns.

Feedback

The Council believe that the provision of feedback is vitally important to people and to the engagement process as a whole. As such, we will provide feedback to those involved in the engagement process and affected by the issue(s) it concerns by providing information on what the Council gained from the engagement; what decision has been made as a result of the engagement (if a decision was to be made) and what the next steps will be (for example, how the decision will be implemented, if one was made).

Different Viewpoints

The Council recognise that some issues and situations are difficult and that it may not be possible to find a solution that everyone is happy with. While we will always ensure that decisions are made using the views and opinions of participants, we are also committed to continuing to work with those people who may have been left disappointed by the final decision. It is important to the Council that everyone is aware of how and why decisions are made and that disappointment with one decision does not prevent people from wanting to engage with the Council in the future.

Working in Partnership with Others

When engaging with people the Council recognise that many subject areas are common to other agencies and organisations. We will therefore continually look for opportunities to work in partnership with others wherever possible, as the most efficient and cost effective way of engaging with people.

Evaluation

The Council believe in continually assessing the effectiveness of our community engagement and are committed to changing our processes as a result of the feedback we receive. As such, we will provide people with the opportunity to assess our engagement methods as part of the engagement process.

How to get involved

Find out how you can get involved.

How will I benefit from getting involved?

Whilst there are significant benefits to the Council from community engagement; it is important that the benefits of your involvement are clear.
Some of the potential benefits to yourself and your community are highlighted below.
Benefits to you
  • The opportunity to start engagement and ask the Council to give to consideration to issues that are important to you.
  • The opportunity to express your opinion, make your voice heard and be more involved in decision-making processes.
  • The opportunity to increase the Council’s awareness of issues we may not have considered or have been aware of.
  • The opportunity to influence the Council’s short and long-term priorities; and help ensure the Council makes the right decisions about issues that concern or affect you.
  • The opportunity to learn more about local democracy and how the Council goes about making decisions.
  • To help the Council identify solutions to issues and help us avoid or resolve the conflict.
  • The opportunity to help ensure Council services are of use, benefit, and relevance to you.
  • To learn new skills and gain knowledge and confidence in expressing and presenting your views.
  • To become a more active member of your community.
  • To meet new and like-minded people, discover more about the different people and communities of the Dudley borough and learn from the experiences of others.
  • To gain a better understanding of viewpoints that may be different from your own, so that you can better relate to people and communities you may be involved with or aware of.
  • To be informed of proposals, decisions, and changes to Council services at the earliest opportunity.
  • To feel listened to and that you can make a difference.

Benefits to your local community

Many of the benefits to you as an individual will also be benefits that your community can identify with. There are, however, benefits arising from community engagement that are more specific to communities as highlighted below.
  • The opportunity to help improve your local area and where you live.
  • The opportunity to help the Council identify the priorities for areas and local communities that are based on local peoples needs.
  • The opportunity to help the Council develop fewer general and more community-specific plans, policies, and strategies.
  • The opportunity to suggest ideas and approaches that would work well for your community.
  • The opportunity to ask the Council to consider issues of concern or interest to your community.
  • The opportunity to increase the Councils awareness of areas of conflict in your local community.
  • The opportunity to help highlight the reasons behind certain issues in your community.
  • The opportunity to ask the Council for assistance on a particular issue.
  • The opportunity to develop good communication between the Council and your community in increasing knowledge, understanding and co-operation.
  • The opportunity to increase knowledge, skills, and experience within your community.
  • The opportunity to promote better understanding and co-operation within your community by joining together about certain issues.

Why engagement is important to Us

We are committed to making the borough a great place to live and work, and improving the quality of life for all our residents. To achieve this we are aware of the need to base our services around the needs of our communities and residents. Community engagement is therefore vital in giving us the information we need to help us develop and improve these services and is why we are committed to seeking your involvement.

The feedback and information we receive from community engagement benefits us in many different ways, such as:

  • Helping provide better quality services that are more efficient and better suited to meeting the needs of our communities and residents.
  • Showing the levels of satisfaction with our services.
  • Helping set performance standards and targets so that they reflect what you, the public, expect and need from the Council.
  • Helping the Council respond to issues of concern to you.
  • Helping the Council make decisions about services and budgets.
  • Helping ensure there is good communication between the Council and the public and that ideas are shared well.

Legislation

Recent national government legislation and guidance emphasizes the importance of engaging with and involving service users and the public in local government. Additionally, there are a number of issues whereby the Council is required to engage with the public.

  • Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA)

This is the new performance framework and guides for the Council and local authorities and examines how well the Council involves local people in decisions that affect them and the areas they live.

  • Customer satisfaction and Council Improvement Planning:

There are a number of areas where customer satisfaction levels are used by Council inspectors to judge how well we address the needs and expectations of local people.

  • Statutory Obligations:

There are a number of areas where the Council has a statutory duty to engage with the public. These include: 

  • planning applications
  • Local structural plans
  • School closures and
  • early years and educational development plans.

Community engagement policies and strategies

There are a number of policies and strategies that help guide the Council in our approach to community engagement. These include national government policies, Council policies or policies the Council has developed with our partners.