Politics

Council applauded for public consultation about its budget

Cullompton residents speaking to John Hart about their local priorities

Posted on: 11 February 2013

A campaign to encourage local communities to have their say on what public services matter most to them has been applauded by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in this year’s Local Public Service awards.

Devon County Council’s ‘Your Community, Your Choice’ consultation, 2011/12, included a range of public meetings, supported by an interative website, to involve and engage with the public about difficult decisions the Council faced as it set last year’s budget.

Describing the campaign as ‘well-thought out’, judges awarded it the winner of this year’s Consultation Excellence category, and were impressed by its low cost, ‘excellent’ media coverage and ‘good level of access’ online.

The Leader of the Council, Cllr John Hart led 17 public meetings around Devon to discuss the budget considerations.  The Council’s interactive website and live meeting ‘tweets’ helped to gather public opinion, and were used to inform and encourage participation.

As a result, approximately 15,000 people participated in one way or another, helping to shape the Council’s budget.

Councillor Hart said of the award,

“It’s great to get the recognition, but it was important to me to involve the public in our budget discussions in light of the reduction needed in spending. 

“I wanted then, as I did again for this year’s budget, to understand the public’s views about services they receive.   They help us put our budgets together by guiding us on priorities across vital services including care for our elderly and most vulnerable, supporting our economy, and investing in Devon’s infrastructure.

“I’d like to thank all members of Devon County’s staff who helped with the consultation.”

The Council picked up a further accolade at this year’s CIPR awards, as Hannah Wicks, Media and PR Officer, who began her career at the Council nearly four years ago as a Graduate Trainee, won Young Communicator of the Year

Judges were impressed by Hannah’s creativity, determination and professionalism, citing her development of the Council’s news, features and social media with the Council’s online News Centre.

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