Hampshire County Council
Policy and Resources Scrutiny and Select Committee
6 June 2005
Covering report for the outcomes of the Community Engagement (Consultation) Best Value Review
Report of the Chief Executive
Contact: Jenny Heath, Corporate Performance Manager, ext 7402
This covering report is intended to provide an `at-a-glance' summary for Members and leads into the outcome report which has been drafted by the core review team
1.1 The original scope of the review was informed by consultation with the District Auditor and agreed by Cabinet on 13 December 2003 as follows:
The initial review will respond to the recommendations from the Corporate Assessment (CPA) Team. These were:
In order to make best use of consultation with users and stakeholders, and to ensure that consultees' views are both respected and seen to be respected, the Council should:
ensure that it consults all relevant stakeholders over strategies, policies, and priorities early enough to enable the results of consultation to influence outcomes, and make better use of established consultation mechanisms.
Part of the outcome of the review will be to flag up what other areas of community engagement need further review in later years.
2.1 The review team established the following vision for consultation at a workshop on 26 March 2004:
Consultation is a process by which we listen to what you say, value what you tell us, using this to inform our decisions.
2.2 The statutory basis for consultation was introduced as part of the Best Value regime and can be found in the Local Government Act 1999.
3.1 Carrying out fundamental reviews of council activity is a key element in supporting Corporate Strategy aim 5; `Improving services, with particular reference to the theme of improving our performance'. This review of consultation underpins all aspects of the corporate strategy but has particular relevance to Aim 4 - `continuing to represent the views of the local community at regional, national and international levels to influence and shape policy', aim 5 - `achieving consistently high levels of customer satisfaction across all services and aim 6 - `developing councillors and staff'.
4.1 The CPA corporate assessment in 2002 commended the authority for its `impressive array of methods of communication and consultation with users and partners'. However, concern was expressed over issues related to the timing of consultation and the coordination and use of the findings.
4.2 Paragraph 7 of the main report highlights the key findings of the review, which indicate a number of areas for improvement. The key conclusion is that overall co-ordination of consultation would generate both improved outcomes in relation to the vision and, after an initial transition period, generate a more efficient approach to consultation.
5.1 Paragraph 8.1 of the main report highlights the key outcomes the review team have identified for effective consultation arrangements that also meet the recommendations in the CPA Corporate Assessment. Implementing the improvement plan will move the Council nearer to achieving these outcomes, although further consideration will be needed when all the information for the preferred option is available.
5.2 The preferred option is to create a central market research co-ordinator. The review team identified that further work would be needed to make a business case for funding a new post and anticipates that the current investment in consultation activity should yield sufficient efficiency gains to achieve this in the future. The improvement plan therefore incorporates activity to build such a business case.
6.1 The following members participated in this review:
· Cllr Dash
· Cllr Davidovitz
· Cllr Ellis
· Ex-Cllr Roberts
7.1 It was estimated that the direct costs of this review would be £4,000. The actual costs were £3,500.
7.2 It was estimated that the review would take 120 officer days, estimated at a cost of £26,280. In effect the review took 100 officer days to complete at a cost of £21,900.
1 The attached outcome report and improvement plan be agreed as representing the views of this Scrutiny and Select Committee
2 Cabinet are advised of the outcome of the best value review so that they can implement the improvement plan
3 Arrangements are made for this committee to receive a further report when the business case for the central co-ordinator is available and if appropriate annual progress reports until the improvement plan is completed
4 A summary of the review is prepared in the standard format for inclusion in the Performance Plan.
5 The Scrutiny and Select Committee nominates Member(s) who will be involved in overseeing the implementation of the Improvement Plan
Section 100D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers
The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.
Community Engagement (Phase I Consultation) Best Value Review Working File
Held by the Review Project Manager in the Corporate Communications Team
N.B. The list excludes:
1. Published works
2. Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.