Participation Strategy 2022-27

What did you tell us?

Phase One Engagement Outcomes 

The outcomes of the phase one discussions were that we should:

  • Develop a focus on a shared vision, key strategic priorities, long-term goals and positive impacts
  • Move away from requiring involvement in a seemingly endless stream of small-scale exercises, and getting bogged down in minute detail
  • Acknowledge the complexity of what the Council is involved in delivering:
    • activities often involve multiple services / policy areas, as well as partner agencies
    • activities are often dependent on multiple decisions taken by different parts of the Council at different times under different legislative frameworks (e.g. capital programme, planning, tendering, aware of contract, car park variation orders, HR and Union considerations etc)
  • Promote resources, which help to improve basic understanding of:
    • the Council’s overall role and Councillor’s role within it
    • the Council’s structure and operation
    • which committees are responsible for what
    • avenues for feeding in information / influencing the agenda, and possible outcomes
  • Recognise that Town and Community Councils are bodies from where many candidates for County Council emerge, and that their experiences as town and community councillors contribute to setting their expectations of County Council
  • Upskill County Councillors, so they are better able to act as effective conduits for the flow of information and ideas to / from their communities and town and community councils
  • Elected members appreciated opportunities for cross-party exchange of information, knowledge, ideas etc between older and newer Councillors and would welcome additional sessions on social media, e-newsletters (including data protection), public speaking / facilitation etc
  • Encourage County Councillors to meet face-to-face and actively listen to those they represent by providing opportunities via regular surgeries / group discussion sessions within their communities
  • Promote greater understanding / appreciation of the assets and diversity within our communities, so there is better representation by County Councillors
  • Build on established contacts (e.g. My Account subscribers) and liaison groups, plus the many existing community groups / activities
  • Partners, stakeholders and participants are treated equitably (i.e. feedback is not ignored)
  • Make complex information more accessible by producing in accessible, bite-sized formats, and by providing opportunities for people to discuss subjects of interest / proposals etc
  • Make appropriate adaptations to methods to meet the needs of different individuals and groups, consider re: accessibility and support for participants (especially vulnerable people and young people)
  • Continue efforts to engage young people in local democracy, increasing the number registering to vote and to take part in elections
  • Improve post-decision feedback to those who have had input into the decision (and more widely if appropriate)

In your own words:

  • As a young person with a disability living in Pembrokeshire, I was delighted whenever we got asked a question about something that was going to affect us. You know, if there was an issue that was affecting people, particularly with disabilities or young people, we were there and we had the opportunity to say things and we did have some really exciting opportunities. We went to the Welsh Assembly, which when you're a little kid from Pembroke! So you're like, oh, this is so cool. And we met various people. I remember sitting at a table next to Rhodri Morgan just thinking it was awesome. And you know these skills we give young people are the ones they are going to grow up with. I think that's really important across the board to say we are listening to what you're saying and we are taking on board the points that you're making.”
  • “People don’t know what PCC does – 80% are unaware of what its role is – what each organisation does from Westminster down. Many people are unaware that councillors receive payment.”
  • “Currently a gap in people’s understanding of the way the Council functions – need to promote information to help fill the gap and to build trust.”
  • “Experience of appearing at a Planning Committee. Was hoping for opportunity to discuss the matter at hand, instead was given 5 minutes to speak and there was no response / feedback / discussion at all – it was very frustrating. Agree with the idea of community surgeries with more open discussions, more time to talk.”
  • “Getting young people involved is challenging – they look to You Tube and Instagram for news, difficult to assess what is valuable and reliable (e.g. vaccinations). Need political education – assessing different sources. Need to be involved in debate – understand that there are different ways of doing things.”
  • “Interested in more informal opportunities to feed into processes – opportunities to discuss. At present consultation after consultation often with vast amounts of paperwork / information which needs to be digested prior to being able to give a response – simply don’t have time.”
  • “Some of the feedback you get can be totally out of scope and totally inappropriate. On the other hand, however, we did have a constructive suggestion around changing places toilet provision with the Western Quayside project – it was something that we just hadn’t considered but it has now been, as a result of consultation, included within the design.”
  • “One of the things that I'm conscious of is when you go out to engage with community as an organization you also need resources within the organization to be able to inform that community. I know. By informing I don't mean telling them what you want to do, I mean to provide them with the background information, interpretation of publicly available data sources such as flood data or water quality data specific to their locality. If you want to co-produce things with local communities you need to inform them properly and equip them with the background information in order for them to fully engage.”
  • “I don’t use social media and I am worried that the bulk of communication is on social media. Ok to use social media but need to use other mechanisms as well. Quite often, when you’ve feed into a consultation, you don’t hear what has been decided as a result.”
  • “How do you turn social media conversations into something more meaningful and participative - moving from talk to action, from complaint to contribution?”
  • “Prefer to be able to engage digitally so can maximise the use of commuting time. Need to seek out the information – it is not obvious where it is. Email updates are helpful. Impressed by projects providing opportunities to prioritise options – this can be quite a useful way of engaging people’s attention without them necessarily having to read lots of material.”
  • “Providing face-to-face options is important, it definitely provides opportunities for people who might not otherwise have their voices heard.”
  • “Over the last two years we’ve seen an amazing response from some town and community councils and very little from others – it’s quite an uneven picture across the county. There's a lot of good work happening. We're not always very good at telling people about it.”
  • “I’m a member of a Town Council – we do regular leaflet drops, have a website, have regular engagement events etc – it is difficult to get younger people interested. Really feel that it plays more of a social function. Need more effective links to higher levels of government.”
  • “Need to shift focus from short-term solutions to longer-term, joined-up thinking.”
  • “I'd go even further and say some sort of a culture change is needed so that the public don't look at services as the panacea to all evils but that they take some responsibility as well, you know for their own well-being.”
  • “People need to have a better image of public life. There need to be positive role models.”
  • “I think getting the relationship between county councillors, town and community councillors and other community associations or forums etc and the larger community is key to things going well. Usually because that broadly the same people and where they all get on it works, it works great, you know, because the strengths of each is brought to the floor and they don't compete. However there are, sadly, numerous examples of where the relationship is not good. That relationship is critical and it's often where it breaks down.”
  • “Some members work incredibly hard and we’ve seen some examples of really positive engagement with members, where they’ve helped us to find solutions in their communities because they know their communities better than we do.”
  • “County Councillors see themselves as the gatekeepers to their communities. Many town councils found having senior officers attend their meetings to be incredibly useful. I think it's about ensuring that we have a number of mechanisms for people’s voices to be heard but that each voice is heard equally.”
  • “I’ve had a lot of involvement with the elected members on projects and on the whole it's been very positive, but that's as long as you make sure that you get good information out to the elected members first. I work in a very technical field . . . and not everybody necessarily understands it, but if you take the time to explain it to the elected members and get them on board, then using them as a channel for engagement with their ward or whatever it might - it's been very positive.”
  • “On the housing side, we’ve had the elected members involved in the public events. They're obviously the face of the Council in the community, you know that the public facing sort of person at those meetings. So they know often know about the experiences of other people within that constituency, so they're quite hands on it when it comes to those public events.”
  • “I think the virtual world can really help us as well. I feel people will be prepared to listen and participate. They don’t need to travel somewhere to take part. I went to the meet a Councillor event and I was really struck, thinking, ‘these people really do want to make a difference’. Members are effectively community champions aren’t they? Sometimes it can feel as though, perhaps, they only hear negatives – they don’t hear about positive things like the involvement in the MyAccount development – asking people, ‘what would you like?’, ‘what would help you?’, ‘do you think it’s a good or bad idea?’ – so they are helping to shape something.”
  • “The role of a local councillor is to represent the views of those in their wards – but, once elected, there is no accountability during the period of office. Once they’ve been voted in they assume that electors have given support for all their actions / decisions without referring to them re: the issue. If you are a County Councillor and you are governing on behalf of others surely you’d want to know what those you are representing are actually thinking?”
  • “It would be really interesting to know how much our members understand about participation and about engagement. We've got a set standards that we worked to (the national participation standards). Is there a local authority set of standards or is there an opportunity to do some training with members on participation? It definitely needs to be improved.”
  • “Limited public awareness of who their councillors were, how to feed into processes etc. Feel it is the responsibility of councillors to get out-and-about in their communities and make themselves known.”
  • “Would be useful for Councillors to have ‘key messages’ that they share with residents.”
ID: 11003, revised 26/10/2023