Memorandum by Broxtowe Borough Council
3. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION
4.1 COSTS AND
Appendix 1Community Services Committee
Report of the Director of Technical & Leisure Services on
"It's Your Future"
Appendix 2Press Briefing on "It's
(1) Methods of Consultation and Key Stakeholders
Consulted within the Borough
(2) Broxtowe Borough Council's Community
Plan Consultation Process
(1) Borough of Broxtowe
Broxtowe Borough Council is a local authority
situated to the west of Nottingham and to the north and south
of the districts of Rushcliffe and Ashfield respectively, with
the towns of the Erewash Valley of Derbyshire to the west. The
estimated population of the Borough is 107,140 (1991 census)key
towns being Beeston, Stapleford, Eastwood and Kimberley. The Council
is committed to building better communities and on this basis
has made great efforts to engage the public in consultation in
order to include them as partners in the decision making process.
With a tradition of developing innovative solutions to local problems
Broxtowe Borough Council trialed and then developed a large scale
citizen participation exercise in June to October 1998, entitled
"It's Your Future". With 13 roadshows throughout the
borough and with the use of the "Planning for Real"
technique, the Council has been able to identify local issues
to be resolved through the community planning process. This has
led to increased public awareness of local government functions,
the foundations for a more interactive relationship between the
Borough and its residents/service users, an improved Council image
and more importantly, improved delivery of Council services, Broxtowe
Borough Council commends its approach to promoting community well
being through citizen participation in the form of "It's
Your Future" to other local authorities for them to consider
The Borough of Broxtowe is bounded to the east
by the City of Nottingham, to the north and south by the districts
of Ashfield and Rushcliffe, and to the west by the towns of the
Erewash Valley in Derbyshire. The map on page 3 shows the extent
of the Borough. The estimated population of Broxtowe, according
to the 1991 census was 107,140. The bulk of the population is
concentrated in urban areas which centre on Beeston (20,023),
Stapleford (17,165), Eastwood (11,643) and Kimberley (4,600).
Each of these is a consolidation of earlier smaller settlements.
Awsworth and Brinsley are sizeable, separate communities Cossall
and Strelley have remained small villages. As a local authority
Broxtowe Borough Council recognises that there is no single centre.
2.1. The Borough can be divided into twonorth
and south. The northern settlements, which were originally rural,
developed in association with coal mining, although there are
now no active pits in the area. As a consequence of this decline,
considerable physical, economic and social change is occurring
in tandem with housing and industrial development. The towns in
the south of the Borough, whilst historically related to the textile
industry of the Nottingham area and the Erewash Valley, have developed
as part of the wider built up area around Nottingham. They do,
however, each retain a specific community identity. The area is
heavily built up and small areas of open land separating main
settlements are being encroached upon in recent decades by post-war
The Borough has strong links with adjoining
areas both in terms of housing and employment because of its situation
in relation to Nottingham. There are however, several large individual
employers including The Boots Company Plc, Siemens and Chetwynd
Barracks at Chilwell, which provide a large part of the employment
opportunities in the south. Contraction has however, occurred
at Siemens and Chilwell. The only remaining links to the coal
industry in the north are existing and proposed open cast sites.
The Hardy-Hanson Brewery is an important employer in Kimberley
and there is a large bakery in Watnall. There are a few other
single, large employers in the north but new jobs have mainly
been provided in recent years through the development and occupation
of a number of industrial units on the A610 corridor. The shopping
and service functions of the four town centres are also important
sources of employment, in addition to their role as commercial
and social focal points for the community.
2.2 Broxtowe Borough Council is committed
to building better communities and on this basis have made great
efforts to engage the public in consultation, in order to include
them as partners in the decision making process. This Council
recognises the value of community ownership and participation.
We are making great strides towards changing our culture as a
local authority from delivering purely services, to having an
increasingly equal interest in the services provided by other
agencies. This we are achieving through the development of our
Local Agenda 21 Strategy and our forthcoming Community Plan. On
this basis we submit our approach to citizen participation, "It's
Your Future", as a model for others to consider and follow.
In addition we seek to demonstrate the advantages and disadvantages
of a highly proactive consultation process.
3. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION
Broxtowe Borough Council in recent years has
endeavoured to engage the community through a number of initiatives.
Table 1 shows the methods of consultation used within the Borough
and indicates the key stakeholder groups consulted.
METHODS OF CONSULTATION AND KEY STAKEHOLDERS
CONSULTED WITHIN THE BOROUGH OF BROXTOWE
|Methods of Consultation
|Civic Events||Borough Residents (including
|Correspondence||particular groups such as the young,
|Customer comment cards||Senior Citizens and ethnic
|Leaflets||Citizens Advice Bureau
|Meetings-formal/informal||Economic Development Organisations
|Planning for Real||Homeless
|Presentations||Local Authority Tenants
|Press Releases||Low Income Groups
|Roundtables||Registered Social Landlords
|Talk to Groups||Schools/Colleges
In 1997 the Borough's Community Development Section reviewed
the Council's approach to citizen participation in preparation
for the development of a Community Plan. As a result of this research,
the section identified a number of lessons to be learnt:
(1) To consult on only specific issues that are of key
importance and relevance to the community. In this way the Council
is working for its citizens as their ambassador and leader. It
can only fulfil this role by knowing who its community is.
(2) To encourage citizen participation through a range
(3) To accept that the community does "know best",
provided it has all the information it requires to resolve the
issues affecting it. Thus allowing social solutions to flourish
from within society.
(4) To ensure that citizens and our community are fully
involved in the planning and provision of services to ensure their
own well being.
On the basis of this research work, Broxtowe Borough Council
devised a citizen participation exercise to take place during
June-October 1998. The aim was to provide sufficient information
to assist in the development of a Community Plan, the Council's
Local Agenda 21 (LA21) strategy and provide an initial Best Value
perspective. The exercise was called "It's Your Future".
3.1 "It's Your Future"A model for Citizen
The Community Development Section identified the "Planning
for Real" technique as the ideal vehicle for engaging the
community to facilitate citizen participation. This technique
had previously been used on a small scale in Stapleford and Beeston
Rylands and produced a high level of participation from the community
(750 people). In order to develop the Community Plan therefore,
in partnership with the citizens of Broxtowe, "Planning for
Real" was incorporated into a series of one off events around
the Borough. This was promoted as the "It's Your Future"
The staging of the roadshow was co-ordinated to ensure a
corporate approach was taken to citizen participation. Table 2
and appendices 1 and 2 illustrate the scale of the exercise and
the degree to which this Borough is committed to working with
COMMUNITY PLAN CONSULTATION PROCESS
|Broxtowe Borough Council Staff||Friday 12 June
||Town Hall, Beeston|
|Cossall, Strelley & Trowell||Wednesday 17 June
||Trowell Parish Hall|
|Nuthall||Thursday 18 June
||Nuthall Temple Community Centre
|Kimberley, Babbington & Watnall||Saturday 20 June
|Brinsley||Wednesday 15 July
||Brinsley Parish Hall
|Awsworth||Thursday 16 July
||Awsworth Parish Hall
|Eastwood & Giltbrook||Sunday 19 July
||Eastwood Hobbyfest Site
|Stapleford||Saturday 5 September
||New Stapleford Community Centre
|Bramcote||Friday 11 September
||Bramcote Memorial Hall
||Greenwood Community Centre
|Beeston Rylands||Thursday 1 October
||Trent Vale Infants|
|Chilwell||Friday 2 October
|Beeston||Saturday 10 October
||Beeston Lads' Club|
The first event allowed elected members and Council employees
to make their views known and acted as a training day for the
staff concerned. The authority then proactively took the initiative
out into the community encouraging full citizen participation.
The full range of council services were included in the information
provided at each event, to encourage stimulated dialogue on all
aspects of Council work. The overall aim of the consultation was
to harness citizen participation in the community planning process.
Only by liaising with its community directly can the Council endeavour
to match services with public need.
In order to encourage public attendance and participation,
the Council arranged the following attractions at each event:
community market places;
The events were managed and staffed by Council employees
who were easily identifiable on the event days and at many events
there was support from local voluntary groups.
All householders in the area were leafleted, community groups
were invited and local schools were encouraged to attend so children
could have their input and participate in the exercise.
3.1.1 The structure of each event
On entry to the event, people were given a card indicating
the format of the day and how they could have their say.
As with the previous "Planning for Real" events,
at each venue there was a large map of the locality in the centre
of the exhibition room. Careful consideration was given to the
way in which information was provided to explain the issues in
plain English. A range of simple methods of responding were used,
for example, by sticking pins into boards and encouraging people
to indicate by writing on small topic cards, issues that were
relevant to their area and in particular their concerns in respect
of road safety, play facilities, environmental improvements and
other Council services. All issues had to be specific and were
pinned onto the map at the locations where they were relevant.
All directorates co-operated in the production of topic boards
which were displayed around the edge of the room. These provided
information on Council services, performance statistics, as well
as additional information on issues already raised through the
Local Agenda 21 process. There were also question boards relating
to services for people to answer.
3.1.2 What happened with the information
Following each event the information collected was transferred
into a database in order to identify issues of concern. The answers
to the specific questions were tabulated into area and borough-wide
Question board results were compiled and presented in graph
form and collated into a bound document. Customer comments cards/leaflets
opinions and map issues were tabulated according to the consulted
topic issues: amenities, natural environment, pollution, built
environment/use of land, transport, energy, housing, health, leisure/tourism,
waste, crime, LA21, finance and concessionary allowances, community
plan, economic development. A summary of the feedback and a copy
of the full results were placed in the Council's Members' room.
Each director and Committee Chair was provided with a copy of
the "It's Your FutureQuestion Board Data 1998"
and took the information into consideration when assessing their
budget priorities. The map issues/comment cards were distributed
within the Council.
Each directorate responded where appropriate either in the
form of correspondence to individual households or through implementing
service delivery changes within budgetary constraints and present
Analysis of this information and that obtained from other
consultations eg the local plan and parish reviews are forming
the basis of the Council's Community Plan due to be released in
3.1.3 Feedback from "It's Your Future"
General comments were:
Residents who attended were very pleased to be given the opportunity
to comment on Council services. They were impressed by the range
and cost of services provided by the Council although 60 per cent
of respondents thought that Broxtowe Borough Council does not
give sufficient information about its services. Appendix 1 provides
further specific detail on feedback.
All comments from the community consultation exercise were
analysed and have led to five key elements being identified for
the Council. These are:
(1) Regenerating communities through partnerships.
(2) Clean, healthy and valued environments.
(3) Fighting crime for a safer district.
(4) Providing safe and affordable housing.
(5) Ensuring that residents have access to leisure facilities
These form the basis of the Council's developing Community
Plan, LA 21 strategy and corporate approach to strategic policy
development, particularly the current renewal of the Local Plan.
The priorities identified have since been taken into account when
establishing Broxtowe Borough Council's Best Value performance
The total attendance was 1,179 an average of 91 people. This
was lower than the two earlier events, which were 250 (Beeston
Rylands) and 500 (Stapleford). As the roadshow programme progressed,
publicity increased, publishing press articles and giving radio
interviews to encourage attendance. The conclusion was that consultation
on local government services in general is not "sexy"
enough to attract major interest. There needs to be a contentious
or NIMBY element to achieve big attendances.
The distribution of attendance through age ranges was very
uneven, despite opening into the evenings and at weekends in the
The conclusion was that whilst the quality of response was
good, it could not be accepted as representative of all inhabitants
of the Borough.
Both local and central government have begun to explore new
methods of citizen consultation and participation. To assess Broxtowe
Borough Council's approach to this initiative it is important
(1) The cost and benefits of "It's Your Future".
(2) The implications of this technique for representative
(3) The potential for this innovative approach to strengthen
the democratic process.
4.1 The Cost and Benefits of "It's Your Future"
The cost of the roadshows including equipment hire, publication
of display board material, venue hire, transport, interactive
displays, publicity, advertising and staging was £16,000.
In addition a team of seven employees was required for each event.
As a consequence of "It's Your Future", Broxtowe
Borough Council received the following benefits:
(a) Increased public awareness of Council services. Allowing
people to recognise exactly what the Council does and doesn't
do. "It's Your Future" identified that a significant
proportion of people believed the Council was responsible for
many activities outside the scope of local government. Through
this exercise it was possible to address this perception and clarify
who does what within the Borough.
(b) The foundations for a more interactive relationship
between the authority and its residents/service users were laid,
as the Council, through this Community Planning exercise, became
more accessible to the public.
(c) The Council's image has improved throughout the Borough,
by demonstrating a shift from the traditional stance of one way
communication to a participatory process engaging and listening
to the community. This has continued as the Council has developed
its services with its citizens.
4.2 The Implications of such Techniques for Representative
"It's Your Future" emphasised that as a Council
Broxtowe was pro-actively seeking to listen to its community and
act upon its views. The approach taken clearly says to its citizens
"we are here to work in partnership with you, to promote
the well-being of our area and the people who live and are employed
here". However, this direct approach carried a risk since
it raised expectations. Should actions not occur following exercises
of this nature the local authority's credibility would be called
4.3 The Potential for such Innovations to strengthen the
This type of consultation process engages with the community
to develop a better understanding of how local government works
and what is important to the community. Through active participation
fostering a sense of involvement and importance to community members
by the local authority, community members develop a greater understanding
of the role and mechanisms involved in the running of local services.
Through this level of participation and interest, local people
begin to understand the wider democratic processes and how their
involvement in the process can make a direct impact to their lives
and community. Thus creating a more pro-active relationship between
citizens, local government and the wider democratic processes.
Broxtowe Borough Council is committed to promoting the well-being
of its community. This Council recognises that it is best placed
"to take a comprehensive overview of the needs and priorities
of its local area and community". On this basis we are leading
our citizens to greater levels of partnership through innovative
participation techniques such as "It's Your Future".
We are minded to tackle local issues driven from the "bottom
up" in order to provide better services for all and shall
continue to develop such techniques to engage and develop the
community. An example of this is our increasing commitment to
tackling social exclusion which identifies us as a body who are
putting people first as we progress into the new millennium.
Taking Council services and activities to the people by means
of a roadshow has generated public interest and participation
in the decision making processes at Broxtowe Borough Council.
As a result, our awareness of the problems perceived by each of
our communities has been significantly raised. "Planning
for Real" has been proven to be an extremely useful tool
and user friendly technique.
Broxtowe's experience has shown considerable benefits of
citizen participation and also demonstrated that a range of methods
will be needed to achieve a balanced awareness of the views of
the community. As an approach to engaging our "customers"
we commend it for others to consider and follow.
Appendix, Tables and Map not printed. Back
Since this evidence was originally submitted, opencasting has