To consider a report by the Director for Digital, Sustainability and Resources, copy attached as item12
The Committee had a report before it attached as item 12, a copy of which had been circulated to all Members, a copy of which is attached to a signed copy of these minutes.
A Member asked “Can you please give us an update on the Big Listen exercise including how much of the £70,000 budget has been spent so far, how many people have engaged (broken to conversations and website responses) and what tangible impact the responses have had on decisions taken by the executive?”
The Big Listen was developed to enable the Council to develop its approach to participation and find new ways of engaging with residents. It had been an attempt to create spaces to genuinely listen to concerns and hopes shared.
The Council held 264 conversations (respondents) over the course of the summer. In total, 399 people contributed to the Big Listen campaign by interacting with the content. Just over 1,800 visits to the Common Place site and 204 registered to receive direct communications about the Big Listen.
The outputs from the exercise had helped teams look at their current and future projects and reflect on their overall target impact and outcomes. The data from this programme had been collated and specific themes relating to core issues - for example - housing - had been shared with key officers in the Council, including Heads of Service and those formulating team strategies and priorities.
The results of the Big Listen were already making a direct impact into the work of officers. Accessibility and inclusivity, along with green spaces were two of the key Big Listen themes. This information had been shared with Officers overseeing public realm, regeneration and major projects and had resulted in greater scrutiny and planning around these issues.
Projects undertaken and aligned to the Big Listen had resulted in a total spend of £26,000.00.
A Member asked “One of your responsibilities is developing community participatory decision-making structures. You haven’t held any citizens' assemblies and I am told that you are reducing the number of participatory leads employed by the council. How are you proposing to improve participatory decision-making structures within that context?”
They were not reducing participatory posts. They were redesigning participatory functions and working up more detailed plans around participation which was outlined in the new corporate plan. As part of this they would be shaping a policy paper and a longer-term roadmap / clear vision for participation and engagement. This would set out how they aimed to involve residents in local decision making.
Citizens assemblies were one method that had been used. As part of the work they would be looking at a variety of methods and tools that they could use alongside building the right capabilities in the staff to do this work well.
Members also asked about the public awareness of council programmes, the coverage of the Big Listen initiative and maximising council assets to tackle homelessness.
Members were told that the council is exploring every avenue to advertise initiatives like the warm spaces, that the Big Listen is a multi-phase plan and phase 2 will aim to cover the areas that might have been missed in phase 1. Members were also told that a written response would be provided to detail what assets were available and how they were being used but it was a regular item on the Cabinet agenda and something they were frequently looking at.