Public engagement can ensure we place the customer at the heart of our organisation and choosing the most appropriate process requires very careful thought. It is important to determine the extent of public participation when engaging the public's view. At one end of the spectrum we may simply need to inform you of a change, at the other end we may empower you, which means the decision is in your hands.
Listening to the public has a number of specific benefits it:
- allows the council to tap the widest source of information possible and thus improves the quality of decisions reached
- alerts policy makers to any concerns and issues not picked up through existing evidence
- helps to monitor existing policy and whether changes are needed.
When Nottinghamshire County Council consults we aim to:
- build a realistic timeframe for the consultation, allowing plenty of time for each stage of the process
- be clear as to who is being consulted, about what and for what specific purpose
- ensure that the document is as simple and concise as possible. It should include a summary and clearly set out the questions it wishes to address
- always distribute documents as widely as possible, using electronic means (but not at the exclusion of others)
- make sure all responses are carefully and open-mindedly analysed, and the results made widely available, with an account of the views expressed, and the reasons for decisions finally taken.