Council listens

SIR – Please may I respond to the article last week entitled A lack of Focus . My team at the council leads our public engagement work. Let me assure all your readers that the council listens very carefully indeed to what residents want for

SIR - Please may I respond to the article last week entitled 'A lack of Focus'.

My team at the council leads our public engagement work.

Let me assure all your readers that the council listens very carefully indeed to what residents want for themselves and for their families.

There is no lack of focus.


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Let me also assure them that by far the bigger challenge we all face is not a failure to listen, or to help residents shape the council's priorities, but to find the human and financial resources to do the things people tell us are most important.

Here is a list of just 11 of the many ways the council listens and learns from its residents.

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There are many more.

I warmly invite all your readers to support any of these. Just call me on 01707 357490 at any time for more information on any of them:

* Councillor surgeries - held in every ward on a rolling basis.

* Public meetings - six each year for residents to shape our priorities.

* Community leadership - councillor involvement as governors, trustees and many other local leadership roles.

* Community events, such as Kaleidoscope - officers attend up to six major events a year to learn from large numbers of people.

* Citizen focus groups - set up to test out and really understand the things residents have told us.

* Borough panel - 1,500 local residents we consult on a wide range of topics.

* Town and parish councils - specific visits each year to capture their views on our priorities.

* Youth council - to listen to young people and get them more involved in their communities.

* Tenants panel - Government commended, active citizen participation in their neighbourhoods.

* Welwyn Hatfield Alliance - all local partners meet every three months sharing insights and working together to improve local services.

* Council service teams - well over 25 different teams engage with their customers and users on an ongoing basis, listening to their ideas and responding to their problems.

Every year cabinet members consider a detailed report bringing together what residents are saying in all these forums.

One event or occasion cannot possibly ensure the council is listening and understanding. But our overall programme ensures cabinet members are fully briefed when making decisions as local leaders.

We are listening.

Terry Osborne,

Chief partnerships and performance officer,

Welwyn Hatfield Council.

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