Epsom and Ewell Borough Council

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					                           ITEM 9 - ANNEXE

Epsom and Ewell Borough Council
Best Value Review of Community

Section   Contents                                                           Page

1         Introduction and Background                                           3

2.        Current Service Position                                              5

3         Undertaking the Review                                               10

4.        Members, The Mayoral and Civic Function                              12

5         Elections and the Electoral Register                                 22

6         Consultations                                                        26

7         Communications                                                       34

8         List of other issues addressed during the course of the Review       38

9.        Improvement Plan                                                     39


          Appendix A                 Members Services - current position       44
          Appendix Ai, table 1       Results Exchange Panel                    50
          Appendix Ai, table 2       Results Exchange Panel                    51
          Appendix B                 Electoral Services – Current position     51
          Appendix C                 Election Turnout – Comparison with        55
                                     other local authorities
          Appendix D                 Turnout at County Council Elections       56
          Appendix E                 Assessment of pilot scheme carried        57
                                     out by local authorities with home
                                     office approval during 1999-2000
          Appendix F                 Consultation – Current position           61
          Appendix G                 Contents of Consultation Handbook         63
          Appendix H                 Consultation Stakeholder analysis         65
          Appendix I                 Communication – current position          68
          Appendix J                 Communication SWOT analysis               70
          Appendix K                 Communication Methods compared            72
                                     with other Surrey Districts
          Appendix L                 How people find out what the              74
                                     Council is doing

1   Introduction and Background

    1.1 Introduction
    Epsom and Ewell Borough Council is a District Council within Surrey. The population of the
    Borough numbers 71,600. Uniquely, political control rests with Councillors representing
    Residents‟ Associations. These are independent organisations that have for over 60 years
    maintained control of the Council.

    1.2 Background to the Review
    The Council produced a five year programme (2000/2001 to 2004/2005) for undertaking the
    fundamental review of its services. This programme covers both service specific and cross
    cutting “thematic” reviews.

    The Council recognises the need for change and the best value review programme has prioritised
    services where standards need to be raised. The Community Engagement Best Value Review has
    been chosen because it is some time since these issues were considered and there are areas which
    offer possibilities for improvement in service.

    1.3       The Scope of the Review

              Member Services – Members‟ interaction with constituents, services to Members, the
               Mayoral and civic function, public access to committees
              Elections – Electoral registration and elections
              Consultation strategy and customer research - The Council‟s general approach to
               consultation; to look at different methods for consulting with the community i.e. the
               Exchange Panel and existing community forums etc. to review much of what is contained
               in the consultation strategy; to look specifically at the most appropriate ways of engaging
               with the community.
              Specific consultation – To look at the way the Council tackles specific consultations
               with the community. This area will look at previous consultations, such as controlled
               parking zones and local plans, to see if they can be better approached in the future.
              Communications – To consider the different methods, which are used to communicate
               with the public. This will look at Borough Insight, other Council publications, public
               relations, notice boards and the website.

    It was decided that the review should not include the Council‟s mechanisms for dealing directly
    with individuals in the community (e.g. customer service, including Contact Centre, Reception,
    phone calls, complaints, correspondence etc.). The reason for not including these in the review
    is that some elements, such as the Complaints Procedure have only recently been established and
    can more usefully be examined in future reviews. Other elements (e.g. the Contact Centre) have
    already been covered in the Best Value Review of Back Office.

    It had originally been intended to examine the role of “backbench” councillors, but since in
    October 2001 the Council adopted a new constitution which effectively gives all Councillors
    both decision making and representational roles, this aspect was not pursued.

    As part of the review many issues were considered which will be considered as part of the
    community planning process. Many of the issues will receive further consideration in year 5 of

                                                        3   Community Engagement Best Value Review
the Epsom and Ewell Review programme when a review of Sustainability will be undertaken.
The view of the review group and some of the related stakeholders was that as the community
planning process is in its early stages then lots of the issues which have come out of this process
could be included, as the community did not yet have a community plan.

1.4 Terms of Reference
The terms of reference for the review are summarised as
    To consider how the Council currently communicates and engages with its community
    To look at how Members engage with the community
    Explore how the Council can communicate and engage with the community more

1.5 This Document
This document sets out the current performance of the services subject to review; analyses the
findings of the exercises carried out under the 4C methodology; lists those issues addressed
during the course of the review and finally sets out a five year improvement plan, identifying the
resources needed and any savings involved.

                                                 4   Community Engagement Best Value Review
2     The Current Service Position

2.1 Methodology
In Sections 4 – 7 and in the Appendices, the current position of the service is stated and key
issues surrounding the service are identified. The Review has concentrated mainly on these key
issues. Following a baseline assessment and initial surveys of stakeholders, the team decided not
to address those matters where the stakeholders or the team did not perceive a problem or where
there was not an opportunity for improvement or the freedom to make changes. The review
does examine areas identified by stakeholders and the review team as in need of attention or

2.2     Progress and Achievements

Many significant achievements have taken place which are outlined below. The areas which are
outlined below have not been looked at by the review team because they were perceived to be
areas where the Council is working well.

 Internal communications
  The Council has been developing its internal communications process since April 2000. The
  Council recognises the importance of improving communication with staff, which in turn
  helps staff to communicate with individuals and groups in the community. To improve
  internal communications the Council has carried out a staff survey in April 2000 to find out
  how effective internal communication is in the Council. In June 2000 the results were
  communicated back to staff and in September 2000 there were staff briefing sessions to find
  out how staff felt about communication and how they wished to see it improved. The
  improvements which were made as a result of this included Insider being increased to
  fortnightly, channels for staff to go through if they have communication problems, notice
  board set up with press cuttings and the Chief Executive holding quarterly briefing meetings.
  Other methods which were introduced included video sessions on „Meetings bloody
  meetings‟, a leaflet on Epsom and Ewell‟s commitment to communications and a follow-up
  survey to measure how communication has improved in the Council.

 Members‟ briefing sheet

      The Council has a Members‟ briefing sheet which is published to all Councillors every
      Friday. It contains a mixture of information in an accessible and easily read format. It
      includes recent developments in the authority and in the Borough, calendar of events,
      summaries of the latest legislation and national developments affecting local government.

     Induction training for all new Members after the 1999 elections

      The Council recognises the role that Members play in engaging with their communities and
      tries to assist them with this through the Members‟ induction programme. The induction
      programme included seminars on Councillors‟ roles and responsibilities, an overview of the
      work of all local authorities, the work of the Council‟s departments, local authority finance
      and a session on how procedure at Council meetings works. Each new Councillor is given a
      handbook of essential information about the Council and its staff as well as guides to gifts,
      hospitality and declarations of interest. Following the induction programme a number of

                                                  5    Community Engagement Best Value Review
training courses were provided according to need. This was achieved by a survey of
Members asking them to identify their training needs and their preferred method of learning.
As a result specific sessions on topics such as speaking in public and probity in planning
were arranged for some Councillors. Others borrowed videos and books on chosen topics.

   Provision of computers to all members

Every Councillor is now able to have a Council PC or their own PC connected to the
Council‟s system. This enables much quicker communication between officers and
Councillors, gives Councillors direct access to information about Council services for their
constituents and allows the public to have an additional communication tool to contact
Councillors. The provision of computers also reduces paper costs.

   High level of satisfaction with the elections service

The Council has recognised the importance of making the election process as friendly as
possible for all of those concerned. In recognising that elections are one of the main ways in
which the Council can engage with it‟s community, it recognises the importance of finding
out the views of all those directly involved. It achieves this through carrying out a survey of
election agents (and candidates where they are acting as their own agents) on various aspects
of the organisation of elections. The most recent survey (June 2000) showed a high degree
of satisfaction with the service.

   A successful Citizens‟ Panel

The Council recognises the importance of finding out the views of public. The most cost-
effective way with which the Council has found to do this is through a Citizens‟ panel. The
Citizens‟ panel is run by Council staff and surveys have been carried out to find out views
on e-government, leisure and general issues in the Borough. The Council achieves a high
response rate and has used the findings of the panel to inform decisions. A good example
of this is the establishment of the Council‟s Customer Contact Centre after the panel
findings showed that the majority of people wanted their questions and problems dealt with
in a single telephone call.

   High % return of electoral registration forms

Residents are unable to vote unless they are on the electoral register. Consequently it is
important to ensure that the Register is as full and complete as possible. The way to achieve
this is to ensure a high rate of return of electoral registration forms each year. The Council‟s
spending per elector on this exercise falls in the mid range but the rate of return is high.
This is achieved through selective targeting of areas of low return, coupled with a thorough
knowledge of the borough, timely information on new housing completions, a good flow of
information on deaths and moves.

 Welcome pack for all new residents

    The Council takes the opportunity to engage with all new residents of the Borough by
    sending all new residents a welcome to the Borough pack. The information pack
    contains information about the services which are provided in the Borough.

                                             6   Community Engagement Best Value Review
       Partnership working

        The Council has a number of well established partnership arrangements in the
        community. The Council tries to engage with the community on any areas where there
        are major issues which need addressing. The Council has developed partnership working
        through the Race Relations Network and through many of the area forums which operate
        in areas such as West Ewell, Longmead, Watersedge and a Town Centre action group.
        There is also partnership working in the form of a Business Forum and a Community
        Safety Group. Community planning events have been held on specific issues such as the
        development of the Hospital Cluster, the Sustainability Strategy and the Town Centre

        The Review Team has not considered these aspects in any detail since it is more
        appropriate for them to be considered in a future Best Value Review.

       The Work of the Mayor

        Feedback from local residents and organisations indicates a high degree of satisfaction
        with the work undertaken by Epsom and Ewell‟s Mayors. In particular there is
        appreciation for the support the Mayor gives to local charities, raising considerable sums
        of money and raising the profile of the selected charities in the Mayoral year. Epsom and
        Ewell Mayors are also a very public face for the Council, meeting all age groups from the
        very young (Mayor‟s often invite groups of Cubs and Brownies to the Town Hall) to the
        elderly and disadvantaged groups.

           Good contact with residents

        There are examples of very pro-active work by Councillors in some wards to make direct
        contact with their constituents outside election campaigns. For example in one ward the
        3 Ward Councillors visited every house to meet the residents, make sure that they knew
        how to make contact with their local councillors and to find out the issues that were
        causing concern.

2.3    Strategic Overview: How the government would like the authority to engage more
       with the community

Central government is requesting that local authorities consider how they engage with their
communities. The Community engagement review has considered this by looking at how the
Council involves local people in elections, how Members interact with the community, how the
Council consults with the community and how the Council communicates with the community.

The review is starting from early guidance issued by the government in 1997 which promotes
local participation as one element in its wider drive to modernise local government. The
government argues that doing something to increase voter turnout in elections is vital and
developing better forms of decision-making within authorities is essential. However it
recognises that there is also a need to develop deeper ways of involving local communities. The
interest and support for extended public participation is at the heart of the modernising agenda.

Effective participation and engagement of local residents will be central to the activities of local
authorities in shaping services, influencing policies and priorities and in encouraging a shared
commitment to tackle social and economic problems.

                                                  7   Community Engagement Best Value Review
     A starting point for this review is a clear sense of what is the current situation and what can be
     done to improve it. Outlined in the Appendix are statements regarding where the authority is at
     the present time with regard to community engagement. This review should hopefully improve
     comprehension, provide clarity about goals, identify what can be built on, suggest appropriate
     techniques for engaging with the community, and give guidance on how to establish a review
     and monitoring process. The underlying challenge is how to take steps towards a shift in public
     perceptions so that the council is seen as less bureaucratic and remote and more open and
     accessible. Epsom and Ewell Council has taken a step in this direction by incorporating
     „listening and responding to the community‟ into its values.

     2.4     Performance Management

     The only relevant performance management indicators relate to the return of electoral
     registration forms and the turnout at local elections. Both these matters are discussed in
     paragraph 5 of this report. It is however appropriate to point out that the Best Value indicator
     relating to turnout at local elections has now been deleted and the introduction of rolling
     registration has made the return of electoral registration forms at a given point in the year a less
     reliable indicator since people can now be added to or taken off the register at any time.

                                                                               target as        2001/02
                     2000/2001 Upper       1999/2000        2000/2001     printed in last   Performanc        2002/03
       Indicator             Quartile    performance     performance        years BVPP                e        Target
                                                            29.7% (no
The % turnout for                                       elections so as
   local elections               37%          29.70%    previous year)         30%/70%             N/A           N/A_
                      1999/00 District                                                                         2001/02
                         Council Top          1998/99        1999/00            2000/01        2000/01          Likely
        Indicator                25%     Performance    Performance              Target         Actual    Performance
       % electoral
 registration form
     'A's returned               99%          98.70%           98.70%               98%          98.7%            N/A

     As a result of the review the following quantitative indicators have been adopted to measure the
     impact of the community engagement review. The first survey to establish a benchmark for
     future years will be carried out in 2002 and future surveys will be carried out on a three yearly

     % of respondents satisfied with their local area as a place to live
     % of respondents who consider their local area is getting better or worse
     Total % of local community organisations as % of population
     % of residents who vote in local elections
     % of respondents satisfied with the amount of information they get from the Council

     2.5 How much money is spent on Community Engagement?
     Below is an outline of how much we are currently spending on Community Engagement.

   Area under review                                         2001/02
   Member services                                           £112,700

                                                         8     Community Engagement Best Value Review
Civic responsibilities                              £442,530

Communications                                      £98,370

Elections                                           £61,140

Register of electors                              £54,820
Consultation and research budget                  £14,780*
      There are likely to be other consultation budgets within other budgets.

 2.6     Examples of documents which outline best practice in the service

      Association of Electoral Administrators Good Practice Papers
      Running Elections by Roger Morris and David Monks published by SOLACE
      Polls Apart: Campaigning for Accessible Democracy – published by SCOPE
      Involving young people in decision making – a survey of local authorities
      Listen up – effective community consultation – Audit Commission
      Communications in Local Government – LGA survey of Local Authorities – July 2001.

                                                9     Community Engagement Best Value Review
3     Undertaking the Review

3.1 The National Perspective
Although Best Value is within its second year of operation, the Government, Audit Commission
and Best Value Inspectorate have not to-date published specific guidance on methodology to be
followed within the review process. While guidance exists on best practice in consultation and
benchmarking, it remains therefore a task for each Council to determine how the review process
is to be tackled.

3.2 Introduction
The service was challenged both internally and externally, demonstrated by:-
      The membership of the Review Team
      Meetings with, visits to and surveys of other local authorities
      Meetings with and surveys of stakeholders
      IDeA Peer Review

In addition to the broad construction of the in-house review team, the advice of independent
consultants was taken on the structure and content of the review.

3.3    The Review Process

3.3.1 The Community Engagement Best Value Review Team was established in June 2001.
      The team has carried out the review using an interpretation of the Jane Foot model of
      carrying out cross-cutting best value reviews (“How to do Cross-cutting Best Value
      Reviews – A Practitioner‟s Guide to Joined Up Working”)

3.3.2 The review started with the team considering the scope of what should be included in the
      review. The team took into consideration results of earlier surveys, findings from the
      IDeA Peer Group review, various requests from Committees and from Directors for
      matters to be included as well as what was relevant and manageable. Following this, the
      group carried out a baseline assessment, which included a diagnostic identification and
      appraisal of what key issues needed to be addressed through the review process. A
      consensus technique was used which allowed all group members to have an equal say on
      the issues which should be taken forward for further investigation.

3.3.3 Identifying the key issues was then followed by a more detailed investigation and
      evidence analysis stage. At the same time a number of consultation exercises were
      undertaken with:

           Staff
           The public
           Epsom and Ewell Exchange Panel; and
           Councillors

                                               10   Community Engagement Best Value Review
       After the investigation stage draft recommendations were presented to the full best value
       review group.

3.3.4. At this stage a full plan was developed and its recommendations were used to form the
       action plan. The action plan includes targets and actions to achieve. An implementation
       plan has also been produced for each of the major actions identified.

3.4.5 Following this, a draft report was presented to Directors and wider consultation then took
      place with all staff and Councillors and a final report was presented to Strategy and
      Resources on 26 March 2002.

3.4 Review Team Overview
The members of the review team were Anne Macgregor, Head of Committee Services; Peter
Edwards, Principal Planning Officer; Sheila Coburn, Taxation Manager; Natalie Florance,
Research and Information Manager; and Councillors Mike Pellatt and Lesley Danbury.

Regular scheduled meetings of the Core Review Team took place.

                                               11   Community Engagement Best Value Review
4.        Members, The Mayoral and Civic Function.
4.1       Introduction
This part of the review considers the role of Members in engaging with the community.
Members are central to the democratic process and so it is essential that they are assisted to fulfil
this role to the best of their ability.

4.2.      Current situation
This area of the review was broken down into three distinct areas:

         Members‟ interaction with constituents (including surgeries, local party or residents‟
          organisations, representation on local organisations and user groups, dealing with
          individual constituents, engaging the community and engendering civic pride)
         Services to Members (including providing information and advice for Councillors,
          Members‟ Room, Members‟ Briefing, training and courses, stationery, typing and
          copying, post and courier, PCs etc)
         The Mayoral and Civic Role

A full explanation of the current position of these services is attached as Appendix A.

4.3       Challenge

Various elements of the above areas have been identified as issues that need to be addressed.
They do not appear in any specific order but set out to challenge the “Where we are now?”
statements set out in Appendix A.

4.3.1 The “mentor” element of the Member induction programme was not provided
      consistently (e.g. whilst some Members had received a lot of support from their
      “mentors”, others had no contact at all) and some concern was expressed that the
      matching of Members to mentors was not as sensitive as it might have been which had
      given rise to some conflicts and some new Members not being fully engaged with the
      workings of the authority.

4.3.2 When Members are elected they get an information pack that sets out, amongst other
      things, their local role. The Constitution also contains a Core Job Description for
      Councillors. However, it is expressed in fairly broad terms and does not set out detailed
      examples of the role of Members with their communities.

4.3.3 There are induction sessions for Members, there are briefing evenings on local
      government topics as they arise, plus opportunities to go on courses and conferences
      (which are advertised in the Members Briefing sheet), but there is no overall planned
      training plan for Members, nor any individual personal development programme on an
      on-going basis.

4.3.4 Falling electoral turnout (on average less than 30 per cent) at the Borough Council
      elections in 1999 needs to be addressed at a political level as well as the administrative
      level (see also section 5 of this review report). Although this is subject to a separate

                                                  12   Community Engagement Best Value Review
       report which will be presented to the Strategy and Resources Committee at the same

4.3.5 Many members of the community do not know what a Councillor is. (Finding from
      Exchange Panel Survey and findings from the focus group)

4.3.6 Members are not fully representative of the makeup of the local community, e.g. there are
      no ethnic minority Councillors and, despite the significant efforts that have been made to
      do so, the Council is not yet fully engaging with its ethnic minority residents, currently
      6% of population (1991 census).

4.3.7 Information is not circulated widely to the public on who their local Councillor is. A
      picture poster was published in the Council magazine but this is not shared widely.

4.3.8 The Council website is also not used to its full potential to identify who Members are.
      There is no detailed information about the Members on the website, only a contact
      telephone number, party, committees on which they sit and the name of the ward they
      represent. Few Members have their own web sites.

4.3.9 Many Members do not hold local surgeries. Some Liberal Democrat and Labour
      Members do, but a majority of Residents‟ Association Members do not. They do attend
      Residents‟ Associations meetings where road representatives and residents can talk to
      them. Some Residents‟ Association meetings are publicised and residents are invited to
      attend, but others are not open to non-members and not all members of the public feel
      confident about attending what they feel is a private “club”. A quote from the Focus
      Group reads:
              “ I see suits, I see older people…. I just can‟t see it being a very approachable
              environment. I can‟t see myself walking in there and being able to express myself
              – especially as someone who has never been there before. I wouldn‟t have a clue
              what would happen”.

4.3.10 Members have been involved in the listening roadshows, which were held in the
       community. The roadshows were taken around the community and were an opportunity
       for Councillors to listen and respond to their communities.

4.3.11 It is expected that pilot courses on Citizenship will be rolled out in schools in the coming
       year. This is likely to lead to an increase in interest in the democratic process from
       young people. The Council already contributes through the talks given by a number of
       Council Officers to schools about aspects of the Council‟s work. The Council‟s elections
       staff also help and advise in the organisation of elections for the Surrey Youth Parliament
       (see also paragraph 5

4.3.12 The Mayor and Deputy Mayor are to most people, the most obvious and visible sign of
       engagement with the community, but currently the roles of the Council‟s Mayor and
       Deputy Mayor are not set down in writing and there is no role for the Deputy other than
       standing in for the Mayor at engagements which the Mayor cannot fulfil. This varies
       greatly depending on the personality of the Mayor.

4.3.13 The Mayoral car is becoming increasingly costly to the authority as it nears the end of its
       life and the review provided a good opportunity to look at future provision.

                                                13   Community Engagement Best Value Review
4.3.14 It is debatable whether the wearing of robes by Councillors for ordinary Council
       meetings enhances the traditional status of Councillors and helps impose dignity on the
       proceedings or appears old fashioned and off-putting to the general public.

4.3.15 The Council Chamber on the first floor of the Town Hall presents a number of problems.

          Under-use
              o The Chamber is used on average on two days per week and the Chamber and
                  public gallery are used on average on three evenings per week.
              o The asset rental value of the Council Chamber is estimated at £76,000 for
                  2001/02. While it is not in use this is wasted.
          Relative inflexibility
              o The public gallery has a solid stepped floor
              o There is no scope for providing access by lift to the public gallery
              o The fixed raised dais in the Council Chamber
              o The desks and tables in the Council Chamber are relatively heavy and not
                  easily moved.
              o There is no provision for temporary partitioning of the Chamber
          Poor audio-visuals
              o The sound system is failing and the suppliers will no longer maintain it.
              o The Induction Loop system is failing.
              o There is no adequate visual display system for presentations and maps
              o No remote control of lighting and curtains
          Low “customer” satisfaction
              o Stairs serving public gallery marginally fail to comply with the current
                  Building Regulations in a number of respects
              o Although access for Councillors and staff is from the Town Hall extension,
                  served by stairs and two lifts, there is no lift to the public gallery, access to
                  which is from an external door via several flights of steps. Access to public
                  gallery for people with mobility disabilities is impossible
              o Difficulties in identifying individual Members
              o Difficulties in seeing and hearing some Members
              o Difficulties in seeing visual displays
              o Local community groups find the Chamber inhibiting and unfriendly.
          Miscellaneous
              o Years of moving have weakened the furniture which now needs replacement.
              o Moving the heavy furniture on the parquet flooring creates a significant noise
                  disturbance to the contact centre immediately below.

4.4    Compare
Comparisons have been made on a wide range of Member Services with 10 other local
authorities of varying size and type. In many respects the Borough compares favourably (e.g.
provision of PCs, issue of weekly briefing sheet), but where it does not, a number of useful ideas
have been identified:

4.4.1 Surgeries.

Some ideas in use elsewhere include:

                                                14   Community Engagement Best Value Review
(1)     Sutton LBC provides assistance to Members by publicising their surgeries as well as
        organising accommodation and covering costs. Their surgeries are well publicised on its
        website. Epsom and Ewell Borough Council offers the free use of Council accommodation
        but does not help with publicity.

(2)     Lewisham LBC also organises street surgeries. Here, cards are put through the doors of
        particular streets. The card says that if the householder would like to talk with their
        Councillor the card should be placed in the window and the Councillor will call back one
        week later. This approach has met with some success, although there has been no proper
        evaluation. It is likely that this approach would only be suitable for urban areas.

4.4.2 Website

         By comparison with Epsom and Ewell‟s website, Bristol City Council‟s site (amongst
         others) has information about aspects of democracy, the role of Councillors and how
         Councillors can help the public.

4.4.3 Job Descriptions and Training

      (1) Many local authorities such as East Sussex and Bedfordshire County Council have more
          detailed job descriptions, which can be used as the basis for determining training needs.

      (2) The London Borough of Kingston has four training session per year for Councillors (like
          Epsom & Ewell), but from next year they are planning on joining the IDEA who are
          running 12 training sessions for their members.

4.4.4 The Mayor and Deputy Mayor

(1)     In Epsom and Ewell the Mayor is elected and in the following year usually becomes the
        Deputy Mayor. In the majority of other local authorities (9 out of 11 Surrey Districts) the
        process is in reverse – a person is elected to be Deputy and in the following year becomes
        Mayor (or Chairman). In one authority there is no progression from one role to the other
        but each is separately elected every year.

(2)     While there are advantages to all three models, the model adopted by the majority of
        Councils offers the opportunity for the Deputy to have an apprenticeship, make contacts,
        decide on appropriate charities and therefore to move into action more quickly and with
        confidence once he/she becomes Mayor or Chairman.

4.4.5 The Council Chamber

(1)      No Council Chambers in Surrey have been newly built or substantially refurbished within
         the last 8 years, and with the exception of the Woking Borough Council Chamber, none
         are generally regarded as being in any way “state-of-the-art”. Nevertheless comparisons
         have been made with the Council Chambers of 4 other Surrey districts with “better”
         Council Chambers. These are Elmbridge, Mole Valley, Surrey Heath and Woking.

                                                  15   Community Engagement Best Value Review
(2)    All are underused to approximately the same extent as the EEBC Council Chamber
       although it would appear likely that Woking Borough Council will be achieving higher
       levels of use in the future through more active marketing to the private sector.

(3)    With the exception of the Surrey Heath Chamber, none are particularly flexible. All have
       fixed tables/desks for Members to accommodate the cabling for the microphones and a
       fixed raised dais. In the case of Surrey Heath, the area of seating for the public is on the
       same level as the Council Chamber and can be partitioned off to provide a separate
       meeting room served by a separate access.

(4)    All of the other Council Chambers have good audio systems, but Woking is the only one
       with a good integrated audio-visual system. Presentations, using powerpoint, slides,
       acetates, drawings or film are projected via an integrated computerised system onto 2
       screens on opposite sides of the Chamber. The system can also project terrestrial and
       satellite television programmes and film of events taking place within the Council
       Chamber. All of the material shown on the screens is simultaneously available to internet
       users. Several presentations can be shown on the screens simultaneously e.g. a planning
       application drawing, a video of the application site and a Member who is asking a

(5)    All of the other Chambers appear to provide higher levels of “customer” satisfaction than
       the Chamber in Epsom. They all provide good access for people with mobility
       disabilities, functional induction loops and audio systems and better views of Members.
       The degree of a sense of involvement for Members of the public is greatest at Woking.
       Surrey Heath achieves a greater degree of involvement than Elmbridge and Mole Valley
       by accommodating the public on the same level as the floor of the Chamber.

4.5    Consult

The review team identified both internal and external stakeholders.

4.5.1 Councillors.

(1)     A MORI survey presented at the LGA conference 2001 indicated that the public values
the role of local Councillors. Most people think councillors are in charge and see local
representation as really important. The British Social Attitudes Survey (Audit Commission,
Representing the People: The Role of Councillors, 1997) asked members of the public what they
thought should be the most significant influences on Councillors, with the following results:-

       Over 50% - the interest of all local citizens should be the most important
       40% - the interests of the ward
       3% - views of the party
       1% - Councillor‟s own views

(2)   From a number of focus groups held with local community members the following views

                                               16   Community Engagement Best Value Review
      Other than a Councillors‟ name, a significant group of residents in the focus group sample
      felt that information regarding their Council representatives was lacking. They commonly
      cited this as a barrier to participation in Council elections.

      The feeling was that apart from election time, Councillors had a low profile in the area. As
      such, residents had little opportunity to get to know the person behind the Councillor title
      and hence felt unable to develop a view as to how effectively they are doing the job and
      representing the interests of residents. Apart from wanting to see Councillors „out and
      about more‟, residents were hard pressed to identify the best means of remedying this

(3)    The indications were that addressing the information needs/requirements may help to
       encourage more people to use the mechanisms available to them, including participation
       in the electoral process. The turnout at Council elections may also be improved by:

              Lifting the profile of Councillors and encouraging/enabling more informal
               interaction at a neighbourhood level;
              Educating young people in schools about the local community and the election
              Making voting more important by candidates making sure they have campaigns or
               issues on which they stand;
              Making the voting process easier e.g. through well located polling stations, postal
               and other voting methods or organising transport for voters.

(4)    The key findings from a survey with the Epsom and Ewell Exchange Panel in September
       2001 (Appendix Ai, table 1) were that the majority of respondents know that Councillors
       make decisions at meetings, but they do not know who their Councillors are. 71%
       thought that Councillors should hold regular open sessions for the public to visit them.

(5)    Findings from a survey of Epsom & Ewell Councillors in September 2001 (Appendix Ai,
       table 2) showed that for most Councillors the key issues were encouraging more people
       to become councillors, better mechanisms for keeping Members up to date with the latest
       developments in local government and a more structured training programme.

4.5.2 Robes

In view of the feeling that the wearing of robes by Councillors for ordinary Council meetings
could be seen by some members of the public as old fashioned and forbidding, making it more
difficult for those in the gallery to identify who is speaking, in November 2001 the team
consulted Councillors on their views. Out of 39 Councillors, there were 31 replies. Of those
who replied:

          20 Councillors think that the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Chief Executive should wear
           robes for all Council meetings and Civic events;
          19 Councillors think that all Councillors should wear robes for all Council meetings
           and Civic events.

                                               17   Community Engagement Best Value Review
4.5.3 The Mayor and Deputy Mayor
      Councillors were asked for their views on the role of the Mayor and the Deputy. 31
      replied. Of them:

           (1)   17 think that the existing model for election of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor
                 should be retained;
           (2)   9 think that the Mayor should become Mayor after a year as Deputy, including
                 the majority of those who have been Mayor.
           (3)   3 feel the two posts should be separately elected with no “succession”;
           (4)   2 have no view either way.

       Amongst those Councillors replying who have been Mayor there is a small majority in
       favour of (2) above.

4.5.4 Role of Deputy Mayor

       Councillors were asked whether the Deputy Mayor‟s role should remain unchanged. 31
       replied. Of them:
              19 do not think the Deputy Mayor should be given a specific role or portfolio
              11 support the proposal for an enhanced role and allowance for the Deputy Mayor
              1 did not answer the question

4.5.5 The Council Chamber

A questionnaire was placed in the Council Chamber Public Gallery for members of the public
attending meetings between the end of October and the middle of February. Although the
number of forms completed was small (18) this action did spark a letter to the local newspaper,
commending the Council on taking the needs of the public into account. The issues raised most
often in the responses were (in order of number of respondents marking as Very Important):

   1. Need for a sign to show who is speaking

   2. Layout of seating makes it difficult to see who is speaking and councillors have their
      backs to the audience. Some Councillors cannot be seen at all.

   3. Audio visual system needed for presentations and viewing maps and photos

   4. Designated wheelchair spaces

Other points about the building that were raised by respondents included :

          Lack of water fountain
          No directions to lavatories
          Poor ventilation
          Poor heating

Points raised about the meetings included:

                                               18   Community Engagement Best Value Review
        Councillors should not repeat points that have already been made by others
        Councillors and Officers often do not use the microphones properly and should speak

4.5.6 Engaging young people (Up to 18 age group)

Telephone conversations with the teachers responsible for curriculum development in local
secondary schools indicate a high level of enthusiasm for the Council to be more actively
involved in the courses being developed on Citizenship. Ideas suggested have included holding
School Council meetings in the Council Chamber, talks by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor on
community work, talks by Officers on the work done by their departments, involvement in
school careers days and work experience opportunities in the Council for pupils.

In fact a number of Council Officers already give talks on aspects of the Council‟s work to
schools, but perhaps this work should be publicised more widely.

See paragraph 5 for involvement in democracy and the electoral process.

4.6.   Compete

4.6.1 As Members are a unique resource, this area of the Epsom and Ewell Borough Council is
      not open to competition.

4.7    Mayor‟s car

The team considered capital and on-going costs, reliability, quality of service and “image”. The
review team considered a number of options for the future of the Mayoral car, but since these do
not lead to any significant changes in the service they have been excluded from this BV Review
report and the Team‟s findings will be presented separately to the Strategy and Resources
Committee for a decision.

4.8    Conclusions

4.8.1 The role of Members in their community is a key and valued part of local democracy and
      it is continually changing as public expectations increase and technology grows. Member
      involvement in constituencies varies depending on the individual Member and the needs
      of the community. Although Members receive support and some training, the evidence
      suggests that this could be improved. The Council needs to make it easier for the public
      to contact the local Councillor and for the public and new Members to understand their
      local role.

4.8.2 There is little likelihood of any redevelopment of the Town Hall at any point within the
      next 12 years or building a new Council Chamber. No options for abandoning the use of
      the existing Council Chamber currently present themselves. The option of dividing the
      Council Chamber horizontally has been found impractical.

                                               19   Community Engagement Best Value Review
4.8.3 The refurbishment of the Council Chamber is currently a capital programme bid but has
      been accorded low priority. This will need to change if the Council is to honour its
      commitment to effective engagement with the community. The priority must be to
      introduce an effective audio-visual system similar to, but perhaps less sophisticated and
      therefore less expensive than, that used in Woking.

4.8.4 While the lack of catering facilities limits the attraction of a refurbished Chamber to
      commercial hirers, the Review Team is of the opinion that changes in the furnishings and
      layout of the Council Chamber could produce cost effective enhancements in the quality
      of community engagement. This would provide benefits to Councillors, Council staff,
      the general public, the disabled and community groups. The removal of the raised fixed
      dais and the introduction of smaller light weight chairs and desks would allow for a more
      efficient layout with sufficient space available in the Chamber for the public at most
      meetings. The public gallery could continue to accommodate any overflow. The
      enhanced flexibility, together with the improved audio-visual system would be likely to
      result in greater use of the Chamber, with some (although probably not much) increase in
      income for the Council.

4.8.5 For Councillors a new layout could also produce a less confrontational style of meeting,
      where real debate can take place as is envisaged in the Local Government Act 2000,
      which places emphasis on the importance of the full Council. A redesign could make a
      much less daunting space in which to speak. As the public gallery survey showed it is
      very difficult to speak clearly in such a large space, with your back to the public, even
      with a microphone. A less formal appearance could help both Councillors and Officers
      concentrate on what they wish to say rather than how to say it.

4.8.6 It is possible that an opportunity may arise to consider some form of joint arrangements
      with Surrey County Council in the event that the County decides to move its Head
      quarters building to a site in the Borough. Such partnership working would have
      advantages in the perception of joined up government but would be difficult to work in

4.9.   Recommendations
4.9.1 The Mentor system for new Councillors should be enhanced by the appointment of both
      Officer and Councillor mentors working to an agreed brief. Following the induction
      process, on-going planned training (to include sessions on new developments in local
      government) should be provided for Members. It is suggested that a programme of
      Member training be drawn up at the beginning of each municipal year and that the
      services of an outside body be employed to provide the training. It is suggested that a
      person within the Council be identified to take responsibility for arranging it and a
      Councillor be nominated to lead discussion on the content of the programme.

4.9.2 Job descriptions for Councillors need to be further developed and then monitored – it is
      suggested that a peer review system should be established by and for Councillors in order
      to help them identify and develop new skills or areas of expertise (such as Chairing
      meetings, dealing with difficult constituents, Licensing Hearings, Conservation matters).
      Experienced Councillors can then become Mentors for their new colleagues.

                                               20   Community Engagement Best Value Review
4.9.3 Parties and Groups need to adopt mechanisms to attract ethnic minorities and younger
      people to stand for election to Epsom and Ewell Borough Council. This is very
      dependant on Members asking their party/residents‟ groups to look at this issue. It is not
      deemed appropriate for this review to tell Councillors how they should go about
      addressing this, but they should be aware of this minority.

4.9.4 More effort needs to be made to communicate to the wider community who Councillors
      are and what they do. It is suggested that the Insight poster be published every year and
      updated appropriately. More detailed information needs to be published on the Council
      website about Members. The website should be used to its full potential to identify who
      members are and what are their main areas of expertise and interest This issue is also
      addressed under the Section 7 of this review.

4.9.5 The review has highlighted that few Councillors hold surgeries. It is not the place of this
      review to compel Members to hold surgeries but to identify that members of the
      community see this as a problem and to suggest a way in which this can be addressed. It
      is suggested that each group of 3 ward Members should be asked to consider in what
      ways they can enhance their existing methods of contacting their constituents. They
      might, for example, consider holding surgeries on the same evening as existing meetings
      or adopting the card system used by the London Borough of Lewisham, in which
      residents put a card in their window if they would like a Councillor to call at their house.
      They might wish to nominate one of their number to be an e-mail post box for queries
      from the public with an agreed protocol for dealing with those queries. Whatever is
      agreed for each ward, the Council should then assist Councillors by publicising the
      chosen methods for each ward and meeting reasonable costs (such as printing cards).

4.9.6 In view of the feelings of Councillors it is suggested that the wearing of robes be retained
      for Council meetings, but the matter should be reviewed in some 2 - 3 years‟ time.

4.9.7 The Council should give careful thought to the succession of the Mayor and Deputy in
      the light of the experience of past Mayors. Whilst it is important to retain the freedom
      for each new Mayor to approach the role in his/her own style, the Council does need to
      give serious thought to the basic requirements of the role of the Mayor and the Deputy
      Mayor and then ensure that a written job description for both, including a file of
      background information and helpful hints, is drawn up. Should the Council decide to
      change the role of the Deputy Mayor the Council‟s Remuneration Panel would be asked
      to review the allowance attached to the post.

4.9.8 The Council should ensure that refurbishment of the Council Chamber is started within 5
      years, using the findings from this review to refine the project as it currently appears in
      the capital programme bid.

4.9.9 The Council should invite schools to hold their school Council meetings in the Council
      Chamber. These events could also be used to help young people understand the process
      of voting (see paragraph 5.3.1). The Council should also ensure that work experience
      opportunities are offered to all local students.

                                                21   Community Engagement Best Value Review
5.     Elections and Electoral Register
5.1    Introduction

This part of the review considers elections, which form the basis of the democratic process and
give the community its most obvious opportunity to influence the Council, and electoral
registration. An assessment of the current position is outlined in Appendix B.

5.2    Current Situation

5.2.1 The return of electoral registration forms in this Borough is very good (98.7 % in
      2000/01, 2nd highest in Surrey). Percentage returns were until last year a Performance
      Indicator and the Borough was in the top quartile, but the introduction of a new rolling
      registration system this year has made those figures less significant since people can now
      be added or taken off the register on a monthly basis.

5.2.2 The Council already contributes to encouraging young people to become involved in
      democracy. The Council elections team has given advice to YELL on how to organise
      the elections to the UK Youth Parliament and has lent them equipment such as ballot
      boxes. YELL is a group of young people who become involved in a number of projects
      for the young in the Borough.

5.2.3 Falling electoral turnout is a problem for all authorities and for all types of election.
      While turnout for Parliamentary and local council elections in the Borough is in the top
      third in the country, it is decreasing steadily and in the last Borough Council elections the
      Borough was 9th out of 11 in Surrey (Appendices C & D). Although turnout for local
      elections will not in future be a BV Performance Indicator, clearly if Councillors are
      elected by only a small proportion of the electorate, then their mandate is less convincing.
      The compilation and maintenance of an accurate electoral register is vital in enabling
      people to vote, but both political and administrative initiatives need to be found to
      encourage them to do so.

5.3    Challenge

5.3.1 Various elements of elections and electoral registration have been identified as possible
      areas for improvement:

      New ward boundaries coming into effect at the Borough elections in 2003 mean that
       some of the existing polling stations are not easily reached by people living in parts of
       some wards.

      Experience during the 2001 Parliamentary and County Council elections showed that
       some polling stations are not easily accessible for the disabled.

      There is national evidence that young people are the least likely to vote. At a local level
       there are findings from the Focus Group to show that some young people in the sample
       felt they lacked a basic understanding of the purpose and processes of elections:

               “I am one of those people who doesn‟t understand about politics and voting and

                                                22   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                who to vote for because I wouldn‟t know what to do.”

      There is national evidence that when candidates have a specific issue on which to
       campaign this generates more interest amongst voters.

      The Government is encouraging experimentation with voting methods to increase turnout
       Appendix E.

      At the June 2001 Parliamentary elections when the availability of postal voting was
       widened, the Borough experienced a 100.5% increase in the number of people issued
       with a postal vote compared with 1997 (National average increase was 87.5%). There
       were significant difficulties in producing the necessary ballot papers, envelopes,
       declarations etc in time – printing machinery failed, elections staff worked excessively
       long hours and other officers had to be drafted in from various departments to help with
       issuing and opening the postal papers. This higher demand for postal voting is likely to
       grow further. Electoral registration forms now include a tick-box for people to indicate if
       they wish to vote by post and large numbers of electors are awaiting themselves of this

      A key issue for the service in the coming year will be the introduction of new legislation,
       to allow the elector to opt out of the public register of electors. This means that there will
       be two registers in future – one of which will be for sale, as has been the case, to
       commercial organisations (used for credit ratings, advertising promotions, mail shots etc)
       and one purely for electoral purposes. This matter was recently the subject of a court
       case (Robertson v. Wakefield Metropolitan Council & the Secretary of State for the
       Home Department) in which it was ruled that electoral registers should not be sold for
       commercial purposes without the consent of the individuals on the register. The ruling
       will also have an impact on the proposed LASER scheme, whereby a central countrywide
       hub is being established to link all electoral registers to provide a central database. As
       yet the impact on the service of these developments and the court ruling is difficult to
       predict but will need to be monitored closely.

5.4    Compare

5.4.1 SCOPE for People with Cerebral Palsy has carried out a nationwide survey of polling
      stations to assess access for the disabled. Epsom and Ewell‟s polling stations do not all
      measure up to the standards proposed by SCOPE in its report “Polls Apart 3”.

5.4.2 15 local authorities carried out pilot projects aimed at increasing turnout in elections
      during 1999/2000. The projects included:
                   Early voting
                   Electronic voting
                   Extension of Polling hours
                   Mobile ballot box
                   Weekend voting
                   All postal voting

                                                 23   Community Engagement Best Value Review
       All the schemes required legislation and the permission of the Home Office. The Review
       Team has examined all the projects and the findings are set out in Appendix E. The most
       significant fact to emerge is that only postal voting had any real impact on turnout and
       the cost to the authority is very high.

5.4.3 Several local authorities (e.g. Salford, Woking) provide copies of the electoral
      registration form on their Council websites.

5.4.4 Several local authorities (e.g. Reigate and Banstead) send birthday greetings to young
      people attaining the age of 18 and encourage them to use their new entitlement to vote.
      The cost to Epsom and Ewell would be in the region of £800 per annum excluding staff

5.4.5 The Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) issues Best Practice Papers on the
      running of elections. These are used as a guide by Epsom and Ewell elections staff.
      Three of the elections team are members of the Association.

5.5    Consult

5.5.1 Following the May 2001 Parliamentary and County Council elections the Council carried
      out a survey of all election agents to discover levels of satisfaction with various aspects
      of elections administration. The only two issues of concern to arise from the survey were
      accessibility of polling stations and some concern about the relaxation of the postal
      voting regulations. Some felt that postal voting was not secret and could be open to

5.5.2 Each of the pilot schemes referred to in paragraph 5.4.2 above included a questionnaire
      on why people did or did not vote. The most common reasons were given as:
                  Not interested in local council matters
                  No knowledge of candidates, their policies or what they hoped to achieve
                  No knowledge of what the current councillors had achieved
                  Polling station was not convenient.

           The preferred method of voting was listed as postal voting with traditional voting in
           person coming second. Electronic voting was not much favoured – perhaps with
           recent experience of the U.S elections in mind.

5.6    Compete

5.6.1 Almost all aspects of electoral registration and elections administration are tightly
      controlled by legislation. There are no alternative providers for either service, although
      SOLACE and the AEA (Association of Electoral Administrators) have a small pool of
      experienced electoral administrators for use in emergency.

5.6.2 There are 5 main providers of elections and registration software. The Council chose the
      present (PICKWICK) system in 1998 and has been very satisfied with the quality of the

                                               24   Community Engagement Best Value Review
       product and the cost. The system is one of the two most widely used throughout the
       country and its compatibility with other systems is a major advantage

5.6.3 New developments in electronic voting and counting and the production of election
      stationery were on display at a recent SOLACE/AEA conference. At the moment the
      available electronic voting systems are not sufficiently tested to be viable for this Council
      and most are very expensive (although the Minister indicated that some government
      funding would be made available in future). There were however some interesting
      developments in the production of election stationery, which could make the production
      of postal voting documentation considerably quicker and more efficient.

5.7    Conclusions

5.7.1 The Council has not taken part in pilot schemes for alternative voting methods to date
      because any potential benefits have been outweighed by the costs, doubts about security
      and the need in many of the methods to adopt a belt and braces approach (i.e. to use the
      new method but also to have the traditional methods in place in case of failure of

5.7.2 There are few areas of freedom for local authorities in the administration of elections and
      the register. However, new developments are taking place every year and it is important
      to keep them under review and adopt new methods where they can be proved to offer
      advantages. There is a need to review all the polling stations in the Borough both for
      location and accessibility.

5.8    Recommendations

5.8.1 That a complete review of all polling stations be carried out during 2002/03 to ensure that
      they are in the best possible locations for the new ward boundaries and to improve
      accessibility for the disabled wherever possible.

5.8.2 That new technology for processing postal ballot papers be investigated.

5.8.3 That the electoral registration form be made available on the Council‟s web site (see
      Section 7 below).

5.8.4 That birthday cards be sent to all 18 year olds.

                                                25   Community Engagement Best Value Review
6.     Consultation and Customer Research

6.1    Background

6.1.1 Consultation and Research was one of the specific areas identified for review by the
      Community Engagement Best Value Review team. As a starting point for identifying
      issues in relation to consultation and research in the authority the group looked at the
      issues which had been identified by the Peer Review which was carried out in 2000. A
      detailed examination of some of the consultation processes has taken place in Appendix
      F to this report.

6.1.2 The Council has on-going dialogue with a number of community groups. In particular
      there are three groups where continuous dialogue on a range of problems and services
      (rather than service specific or user groups) takes place. These are the West Ewell
      Group, the Longmead Group and the Hospital Cluster Planning Group.

6.1.3 Epsom and Ewell works closely with ethnic community groups and individuals. The
      Council have formal links with the working community relations forum, a local
      charitable association who provide consultation and advice on community issues to
      organisations, run training courses on cultural awareness, provide English classes, and
      undertake community development and racial equality work. The Council also have
      informal links with a range of BME groups in the community via the network set up by
      the Projects officer, including religious groups, schools, youth clubs, community
      associations, and local health and support services. Both the network and the WCRF
      have been helping the council in its work to develop an equalities training package.

6.2    Challenge

6.2.1 Information gained for the production of the consultation strategy shows that there are
      three main types of consultation activity going on in the authority at the present time:

          One-off consultation exercises on specific issues e.g. CPZ
          On-going surveys which monitor satisfaction with services, such as user surveys
          On-going dialogue with service user as in user forums, liaison groups, community
           meetings, etc.

6.2.2 Information from the Peer Review in 2000 provides the main Challenge to how the
      Council is currently carrying out consultation and research in the authority.

          The results of consultation initiatives are not always shared (i.e. comments not
           directly relevant to the issue being discussed, made in response to consultation
           exercises are not passed to the relevant part of the authority) and the results of
           consultation are not always fed into decision making processes. As with
           communication, the Council has made limited efforts to engage with “hard to reach”
           groups. In particular, the Council seems to have limited contact with its ethnic
           minority residents who make up 6 % of the local community, the highest proportion
           in Surrey.

                                               26   Community Engagement Best Value Review
          Members can see consultation as a threat to their representation of local people.

          There is limited evidence of capacity building and skill development for consultation

          As the Council itself has recognised in setting the priorities in its strategy, there is a
           risk of consultation overload, given the amount currently being conducted.

          Most consultation and customer research is organised by in-house staff. A very large
           number of staff are involved in consultation and customer research activities. These
           staff rely on experience rather than training or guidance and this influences the
           planning of the consultation and research and the choice of consultation and customer
           research techniques. This also means that there is little attempt to involve hard to
           reach groups such as young people and ethnic minorities.

           Little feedback is provided to consultees. Significant use is made of the results of
            consultation in some departments particularly to influence the shaping of service
            delivery. However there is evidence that some consultation is undertaken to justify
            this process.

           There seems to be little evidence of departments attempting to obviously limit the
            expectations of their consultees and service users.

6.2.3 Lessons are being learned from the 3 groups described in paragraph 6. 1 2:

           A major criticism is that there were no terms of reference for the groups, leaving
           their purpose unclear and leaving it open to those with personal agendas or with the
           most energy and time to have a disproportionate influence.
          Although some community development work is carried out it is limited due to lack
           of resources. The members of the groups therefore feel they can have little impact
           and no way of getting projects off the ground.
          Members of the community are often not aware of the existence of the groups.
          It is sometimes not clear whether the Councillor representatives on the Groups are
           acting simply as Ward Members or whether their role is to act on behalf of the
           Council as Community Leaders.

6.3    Why are we providing this service?

6.3.1 Some consultation is statutory, such as local plans consultation or the consultation on
      political management structures. However most consultation activity is non-statutory

6.3.2 Best Value changes the requirement to consult the public in significant respects. Under
      Best Value the Council must consult council tax and business ratepayers, service-users
      and others with an interest in their area "for the purpose of deciding how to fulfil the duty
      of making arrangements to secure continuous improvement" (Local Government Act,

6.3.3 The 1999 Local Government Act does not specify how Best Value consultation must be
      carried out, although the DTLR expects to issue guidance. The White Papers that
      preceded the Act stated that the best way of consulting should be determined locally,

                                                  27   Community Engagement Best Value Review
       although the Government would keep under review whether existing specific
       requirements should be maintained or expanded.

6.3.4 Under Best Value the Council has a much broader and more extensive duty to consult
      local people on the way that services are delivered overall, rather than just on specific
      issues. The guidance on implementation of the 1999 Local Government Act states that
      local authority services should:-
       have a customer focus
       be responsive to the needs of citizens, not the convenience of service providers
       consider the views of all potential users, including hard to reach groups (DETR,

6.3.5 The Audit Commission‟s guidance on consultation ("Listen Up", 1999) states that under
      Best Value most local authorities will need to strengthen their consultation programmes.
      The Commission puts forward the view that:- "where authorities have embarked on
      extensive consultation programmes, they have often found the experience to be
      worthwhile when it is done well and used carefully to inform decision-making."

6.3.6 In the Audit Commission's view the main potential benefits of consultation are:-

          services can be targeted more closely on providing what people want, and avoiding
           what people do not want
          take-up of services can be improved, making unit costs lower, especially where there
           is a charge for services
          user satisfaction with services can be monitored over time, providing a useful
           performance indicator on improvements to the quality of services
          problems arising from proposed changes to services can be pinpointed in advance,
           and so avoided
          the results of consultation can be used to help to make decisions about policies,
           priorities and strategies
          local people can be involved more in decision-making, rejuvenating the local
           democratic process
          authorities can strengthen their role in community leadership.

6.4    The ideal model for carrying out consultation

6.4.1 The Audit Commission in "Listen Up" (1999) suggests that consultation should be:-
       carefully planned

          imaginatively designed

          competently carried out

          used to inform decision making

          evaluated as to its effectiveness.

6.5    Compare

                                                28   Community Engagement Best Value Review
6.5.1 Information has been gained from a number of authorities on their approaches to
      consultation and customer research and discussions held with some of these authorities.

6.5.2 The following information has also been referred to:

               Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, "Guidance on Enhancing
                Public Participation" (1998)
               National Consumer Council, Consumer Congress and the Service First Unit in the
                Cabinet Office, "Involving Users" (1999)
               Local Government Management Board, "Involving the Public" (1998)
               Audit Commission, "Listen Up" (1999).

6.5.3 This section relies heavily on research which has been carried out by the Surrey County
      Council Review into „Listening and Responding to the Community in 2000”. As the
      Community Engagement Review team at Epsom and Ewell have a limited amount of
      time in which to carry out the review, the findings of Surrey County Council on the topic
      have been very useful. A direct comparison with the current position in Epsom and
      Ewell has been carried out below:

              The amount of consultation activity appears to be on the increase in many local
               authorities and most authorities rely on in-house staff to organise consultation and
               customer research as is the case in Epsom and Ewell.
              Like many other authorities recognised for best practice such as Hertfordshire,
               Lewisham and York, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council has recognised „Listening
               and Responding to the Community‟ as a corporate priority.
              Most authorities like Epsom and Ewell have a corporate consultation strategy. Adur
               District Council reviewed the consultation activities of each department in detail to
               consider specific issues which need to be dealt with, and to highlight best practice
               which could be shared with others departments in the authority. It also developed a
               consultation handbook and provided training for 70 staff including regular refresher
               sessions on specific aspects of the consultation process.
              Local authorities use a wide range of consultation and customer research techniques.
               National guidance emphasises, however, the importance of proper planning of the
               overall approach to each exercise, taking account of who is to be consulted, local
               circumstances, cost and a number of other managerial issues. Evidence in Epsom
               shows that the planning of consultation can be minimal and based on experience
               rather than an appraisal of relevant factors. Training has been provided for a number
               of staff on the key issues with regard to carrying out consultation but has only been
               taken up by a small number of staff.
              Citizens‟ Panels have been widely used elsewhere to provide cost effective responses
               and a high profile and good publicity opportunities for the authorities themselves.
               Epsom and Ewell currently has the Epsom and Ewell Exchange Panel which was
               recognised by the Peer Review in 2000 as a strength of the authority. The authority
               also gets very high response rates compared to other authorities.

6.5.4 The table below shows how the Epsom and Ewell Exchange Panel operates in
      comparison to Citizens‟ Panels in other local authorities.

                                                  29   Community Engagement Best Value Review
Authority          Response rate     Incentive            Purpose
Epsom and Ewell    94%               £3.00 money          To carry out ad hoc consultation
Borough Council                      voucher              exercises with the community
Aylesbury Vale     13%               Pen and Jotter       To provide continual and ad-hoc
District Council   27%                                    feedback to the council on a range of
                   67%                                    issues
Crawley            50%               No incentive but     Tool for community planning, service
Borough Council                      price draw for       delivery, best value reviews etc.
                                     £100                 Intend to offer to other statutory
Tandridge          55-65%            No incentive –       Originally chosen from 1,000
Borough Council                      price draw £50       households taking part in a general
                                                          satisfaction survey – leading on to a
                                                          detailed community safety survey and
                                                          a leisure services survey
Test Valley        70-85%            No incentives -      1/10 every dwelling. To obtain views
Borough Council                      £100 for naming      and comments
                                     the panel

         Epsom and Ewell does not have a corporately maintained up-to-date database of
          contact names for individuals, or representatives of local organisations. Each section
          maintains its own contacts database and this is wasteful of resources, duplicating
          effort, and leads to needless errors.

         Many authorities are developing electronic means of consultation including
          interactive websites and telephone surveys using their call centres. Epsom and Ewell
          has made use in recent times of electronic consultation through the Epsom and Ewell
          website. Electronic surveys on the web have not been that successful to date but
          research has shown that this is probably due to the lack of publicity undertaken by the
          Council. This issue is being addressed elsewhere in this review.

         York has found that a particular issue is the variable quality of consultation and
          customer research work organised by service departments. York has brought together
          a corporate consultation team to help service staff to achieve and maintain
          appropriate standards.

         Epsom and Ewell has a research team which does carry out some research but, to be
          brought up to the standard in other authorities, needs to establish the following:
              A database of current and previous consultation exercises
              Training and guidance for staff
              A “How to Consult” guide including useful contacts, notes on best practice,
                 advice on consultation techniques, practical consultation exercises and an
                 opportunity to share feedback information.

         Lewisham LBC carried out a review of the impact of consultation on decision
          making, while York has specific procedures to evaluate consultation exercises.
          Neither of these steps has been used in Epsom and Ewell and both these elements of
          best practice could be used to enhance our performance.

                                              30      Community Engagement Best Value Review
6.6       Consult

The Council has asked the community on a number of occasions how it would like to be
consulted. Below are some of the findings.

6.6.1 Residents Survey 1998

         94% of respondents stated that they did not attend any council roadshow or community
         55% didn‟t know that these roadshows/community meetings were taking place
         1% were not interested in local issues
         12% said the Council doesn‟t listen to local residents so why go to a meeting –
         23% said they were too busy to attend –
         12% had no complaints/questions

6.6.2 Youth Research 1999

         63% of respondents felt that the „young people of Epsom and Ewell should be more
          involved in the decisions the Council makes‟, 17% felt that they should not. Of those
          individuals that felt young people should be involved, 31% were aged 11 to 12, 31%
          were age 13 to 14 and 29% were age 15 to 16.

          In „what ways could the Council ask             No reply       Yes           No
          young people their views?
          Questionnaires like this                        22%            72%           7%
          Meetings at schools                             32%            50%           18%
          Meeting at town hall                            48%            17%           35%
          Small groups of young people                    44%            34%           22%
          Youth forum for young people                    48%            22%           30%
          Meeting at Youth Centre                         48%            26%           26%
          Other                                           99%            1%            0%

6.6.3 Information Survey March 2000

         Community meetings are not the best way of involving people in decisions
            No reply – 1.8%
            Agree strongly – 4.7%
            Agree – 38.8%
            Disagree – 37.1%
            Disagree Strongly – 6.1%
            Don‟t know – 11.50%

6.6.4 Health Needs of Older People Survey 2000

Involvement                                                                      %
Not interested                                                                   3%
I would like good information in a leaflet which describes planning issues       67%
I would like to see regular articles in the local press which keep me informed   63%

                                                    31   Community Engagement Best Value Review
I would attend a public meeting to receive the information                    24%
I would attend a public meeting to express my point of view                   19%
I would like a named contact to answer any queries which I may have about     37%
the development plans
I am prepared to express my views through questionnaires like this one        80%
I would like to participate in discussion groups with other people who are    17%
affected by the plans
I would like to receive regular information bulletins                         49%
I would prefer local organisations such as the community health council to    11%
represent my interests
I would be willing to participate as a representative for local people        13%
Other                                                                         5%
Base 306

The most popular options identified by respondents when asked if they would like to be involved
in the planning of services was involvement which didn‟t require them to go along to anything.
By far the most popular options are the giving of information in a written format with the most
popular option for involvement in the planning of services being through questionnaires such as
the one they were responding to at the current time (80%).

6.7     Compete

6.7.1       The collection of information for the preparation of the consultation plan indicated
            that sections within the Council do not keep records on the cost of consultation.
            Only the ITCS department record the time that is spent on a specific project and
            other costs can be measured if an external market research company is employed.
            However a majority of spending on consultation and customer research in Epsom
            and Ewell is the cost of staff time, together with the cost of publication, exhibitions,

6.7.2       The amount of consultation activity is steadily increasing, in common with most
            local authorities and therefore the cost is also increasing.

6.7.3       An issue for Epsom and Ewell is whether to keep records of staff time spent on
            consultation in order to be able to measure the cost.

6.7.4       The cost of consultation to an individual authority, including the cost of organising
            citizens‟ panels, can also be reduced when run as joint exercises with other funding
            organisations. Joined up consultations also have the benefit of making the
            participants appear well organised. A recent example of this was the joining of the
            Community Safety consultation with the Epsom and Ewell Residents‟ survey, which
            resulted in saving money for the Community Safety Partnership. This practice was
            also extended to the Health Needs of Older People research, which was funded partly
            through a Health Gain bid.

                                                  32   Community Engagement Best Value Review
6.8    Conclusions

6.8.1 There is a large amount of consultation and customer research carried out across the
      Council, most of which is organised by in-house staff in sections. The cost is mainly in
      staff time.

6.8.2 The main immediate issue is the variable standard of this work, with a lack of certain
      elements, such as thorough advanced planning, providing consultee feedback and
      evaluating consultation, being critical in securing best practice and value for money. In
      the short term good practice needs to be ensured throughout the organisation.

6.8.3 The Community Planning groups already in place (West Ewell, Longmead, Hospital
      Cluster) will be reviewed more thoroughly in the BV Review of Sustainability and
      Community Planning. However, in the meantime there are already some clear lessons on
      the importance of Member-level involvement and the importance of clear terms of
      reference and objectives.

6.9    Recommendations

6.9.1 Introduction of a corporately maintained database of contact names for individuals, or
      representatives of local organisations.

6.9.2 Preparation of a database of current, previous and future consultation exercises

6.9.3 Training for staff on how to carry out consultation exercises

6.9.4 A „How to Consult‟ guide including useful contacts, notes on best practice, advice on
      consultation techniques, advice on how to consult hard–to-reach groups, choosing
      consultants, practical consultation exercises and an opportunity to share feedback
      information (Appendix G).

                                               33   Community Engagement Best Value Review
7.     Communication
7.1.   Introduction

Research by MORI Local Government Research Unit ( in 2002) has found that residents‟
satisfaction levels rise when their Council keeps them well informed. This part of the
Community Engagement Best Value Review considers the communication methods used to
inform and engage with the Council‟s stakeholders.

7.2.   Current situation

The Review Team has looked at the communication methods currently in operation. These were
detailed in the scope of the Review (see Appendix I). The current methods are:
        Public relations
        Notice boards

The team noted that in 2002/03 the area of public relations becomes a cost centre in its own right
for the first time. This will enable the Public Relations Officer and Councillors to identify those
matters of key importance and to set relevant targets which can then be measured.

7.3.   Challenge

7.3.1 The Review Team has considered, as part of the challenge element, what the current
      communication methods are and which of them are most effective. Various elements of
      the above areas shown in 7.2 have been identified as issues that need to be addressed and
      these are shown in Appendix I.

7.3.2 A SWOT analysis was carried out of the current methods. This is shown in Appendix J.
      The SWOT analysis identified that there are weaknesses in the current methods of
      communication used and that there are opportunities for improvement.

7.3.3 The other authorities in Surrey were contacted to find out what communication methods
      are in existence elsewhere. This is covered in more detail under „Compare‟.
7.3.4 Some visitors to the Council‟s Open Day in October reported that they had forgotten that
      they had received a copy of “Insight” because the last one was so long ago. Council
      Officers complained of the long lead in time needed for publication of “Insight” with the
      result that articles could not by definition be topical.

7.3.5 Alternative methods of communication have been considered as worthy of investigating
      in addition to the ones currently used. These included:

          A dedicated Council page in the local press to be used for the Council to let the public
           know what it is doing and about the status of developments or roadworks.

          A notice board in Civic Street, which could include press cuttings, photographs of
           Councillors and details of the ward they represent and other items of interest

                                                34   Community Engagement Best Value Review
          Use of Council vehicles and street furniture to promote Council facilities or events.

          Increased use of the Council‟s Contact Centre for pro-active dissemination of
           information as opposed to simply responding to requests.

7.4.   Compare

7.4.1 Comparisons have been made with other Surrey authorities of the communication
      methods used. The full findings of the comparisons are in Appendix I. Six out of the ten
      authorities that were contacted responded. All of these authorities have a Council
      magazine, which is issued to all households in their borough and all use a website to
      advertise what their Council is doing. The Websites are similar to Epsom and Ewell‟s in
      the information they hold and all have links to e-mail direct to the relevant Council staff.

7.4.2 One authority has a communications strategy, a copy of which has been received.

7.4.3 The only communication method used in Epsom and Ewell that has a separate budget is
      “Insight”. This currently has a budget of £14,780. The Public Relations Officer is
      responsible for collating the information and the printing is carried out externally by E &
      M Publications. Every resident in the Borough should receive a copy of Insight. In
      addition, a circulation list for Insight has recently been updated and now includes a
      further 2,500. At present Insight is not sent to business addresses in the Borough.

7.4.4 A comparison has been carried out of many leaflets produced by the Council. It is clear
      that different versions of the logo appear on documents. Not all documents have the
      Epsom and Ewell logo on the front page. Investigations have been made with E & M
      Publications and Milton Keynes has a logo guidelines leaflet, which is very useful for
      staff and contractors. The leaflet specifies the size of the logos and the colour detail to be
      used. Although the Council had such a document it is now out of date and has fallen into

7.5.   Consult

7.5.1 Stakeholders have been consulted on the current communication methods used by the
      Council. Stakeholders include taxpayers, focus groups, Residents‟ Panel and staff.

7.5.2 The findings of the Open Day held at the Town Hall on 6 October showed that 82.1% of
      the visitors find out what Epsom and Ewell Borough Council is doing through the local
      press. 10.3% find out through information at the Town Hall.

7.5.3 The findings of the focus groups held in October 2001 by Independent Research
      Consultants showed that 95.2% found out what Epsom and Ewell Borough Council is
      doing through the local press. 51.2% found out via the local library/leaflets.

7.5.4 The findings of the Residents‟ Panel carried out by ITCS showed that 86.1% regularly
      read the Epsom and Ewell Guardian. 79.1% read some or all of Insight and 58.2% said
      they had received communication from the Council by way of leaflets.

                                                35   Community Engagement Best Value Review
The full details of the above are shown in Appendix K.

7.6.   Compete

7.6.1 Discussions with the Public Relations Officer have shown that Epsom and Ewell needs to
      compete for more press coverage. Photographs illustrate topics well and encourage

7.6.2 The Epsom Business Centre has started a half page with the local paper. The Review
      Team has looked at the cost of a similar regular feature for Council news. Unfortunately
      the costs are prohibitive. Prices quoted for the Guardian and the Observer are between
      £4,000 and £5,000 for a quarter page per edition. There would also be an additional
      workload for the Council‟s Public Relations Officer in preparing such information..

7.6.3 To make its publications more interesting, the Council needs to clearly and consistently
      „label‟ its services with the Council‟s logo. All written communications from the
      Council need to refer to Epsom and Ewell Borough Council.

7.6.4 Epsom and Ewell is matching what other boroughs are doing. However, it needs to make
      sure that all its communication methods are regularly reviewed and that it provides good
      quality publications.

7.7.   Conclusions

The existing methods of communication are generally very good, but emphasis should be put on
the quality of the methods. The Council also needs to increase the volume of news items
flowing to the press. Given that this could increase the workload of the Public Relations Officer,
this means that staff providing newsworthy items need to take greater responsibility for writing
articles and will need training. There are also a few additional methods of communication that
could be introduced and these have been mentioned in the report.

7.8.   Recommendations

       7.8.1   An external Communication Strategy be written to set a benchmark for effective
               communication with the Council‟s stakeholders, which means clear and good
               quality communications. Included in the Communication Strategy should be the

                     Standardise corporate identity by using a consistent logo and placing the
                      logo on the front of each document.
                     Standardise corporate documents so that the same letterhead, font and
                      typeface is always used, so that the public know they are from the
                      Borough Council
                     Include guidelines for staff and printers to follow for the design and colour
                      of the logo
                     Ensure leaflets have the corporate style and identity (see above)

                                               36   Community Engagement Best Value Review
              Guidance for staff on how to draft articles for the media, avoiding jargon
               and “difficult” language.
              Proofreading.
              Keep the Council‟s Website up to date by making divisions responsible
               for ensuring that all information is accurate and up to date
              Advise customers about the cost of publications issued by the Council.
              Adopt the standards of the Plain English campaign with a view to all
               divisions revising literature they send out.

7.8.2   Insight should be increased to quarterly. The distribution of Insight should also
        be increased to include businesses, unless a view is taken that a separate
        “Business Insight” would be a better option. Insight should be put onto tape for
        the blind.

7.8.3   Increase press coverage – an increase in the use of photographs will attract more
        press coverage. Establish a small member-level group, representative of the
        whole Council, to meet regularly with the Public Relations Officer to consider
        press releases and publicity generally.

7.8.4   Index of Council publications available i.e. Insight, Annual Report, Best Value
        Performance Plan, Welcome Pack for new residents, Performance Indicators and
        leaflets. – to be available internally and externally via the Website, Contact
        Centre, Reception and contained in new residents‟ Welcome Pack.

7.8.5   Copies of all corporate publications to be sent to libraries, Website, Town Hall
        Receptions and schools where relevant. Issue packs or leaflets to local schools,
        which include topical issues such as advertising for Open Days

7.8.6   Make notice boards attractive to the local community, by ensuring they are
        repaired quickly from vandalism and that the information contained is up to date
        and interesting to the public. Introduce notice boards in Civic Street, which
        include cuttings of everything sent to the local press

7.8.7   Review the contents of the New Residents‟ pack and include information about
        current ward councillors.

                                        37   Community Engagement Best Value Review
8.     Issues addressed as a result of and during the course of the Community
       Engagement Review review.

8.1    Mayor‟s Car

The Mayor‟s car was considered as part of this review but during the review it became clear that
this would be an issue which would need to be looked at on its own. The Mayor‟s car report will
be considered shortly.

8.2    Electoral Registration forms on the website

The Review team concluded, after comparisons with other authorities, that it would be helpful to
the public to make electoral registration forms available on the website. Since there was no
additional cost to the authority this has been done.


The Review Team considered ways to make it easier for residents to advise the Council when
they move house, so that Electoral Registration, Council Tax and any other records can be
quickly amended. During this period the opportunity arose for the Council to join, an organisation which allows residents to inform the Council and other
organisations of change of residence with one e-mail transaction. The Council has now joined.

8.4    Combine the Council Tax and Best Value Performance Plan Summary leaflet

This has now been approved by the Strategy and Resources Committee and a member-level
working group has been set up to consider the contents of the new document.

                                               38   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                                                                                                                      Improvement Plan
    Issue                            Actions             Target                           Owner               Comments            Resource
1   Lack of planned training for     To develop a        To agree with Committee          Committee           A programme of      Example costs -Six
    Members and keeping them         training plan for   Chairman at the start of each    Services/Margaret   actions and         sessions with South East
    up to date with the latest       members in          municipal year a member          Williamson          training courses    Employers would cost
    developments                     consultation with   training programme for the                           can be identified   between £700/£1,000 per
                                     members,            coming year, including at                            at the beginning    session.
                                     officers and        least six sessions per year to                       of each municipal
                                     South East          inform them of the latest                            year.               Total cost approx £6,000
                                     Employers           local government
                                                         developments (commencing
2   Ethnic minority                  To ask political    Leading members to sign a        All political       This is something   To provide appropriate
    representation doesn‟t reflect   parties and         joint statement on their         parties and RAs.    which needs to be   support to the political
    the community                    Residents‟          commitment to encourage                              taken on board by   parties and residents‟
                                     Associations to     more ethnic minority                                 all parties and     groups to assist them with
                                     consider signing    community members to stand                           RAs. It is          the undertaking of this
                                     up to a joint       for election by May 2003.                            something which     task. These will be
                                     statement about                                                          cannot be adopted   identified in the
                                     encouraging                                                              by the Council in   preparation of a joint
                                     more ethnic                                                              isolation.          statement.
                                     minorities to
                                     stand as

    Issue                         Actions             Target                            Owner               Comments               Resource
3   People not knowing what       The publication     To publish a poster of            Public Relations                           No additional resource as
    Councillors do and who they   of a poster of      Councillors, at least once a      Officer                                    space will be made
    are. Raising the profile of   „who is who‟        year and have copies                                                         available in the current
    Councillors in the            regularly in the    available throughout the year                                                Borough Insight
    community.                    Council‟s Insight   which can be used for                                                        magazine.
                                  and website.        additional purposes, such as
                                                      sending to residents who have
                                                      just moved into the Borough.
                                                      (Information Pack)
4   Lack of information about     Additional          To completely revamp the          Head of             It is suggested        Time of an existing
    Councillors on the Council    information to be   Councillors section of the        Committee           that this wait until   member of staff
    website                       published on the    website, to include where         Services/ITCS       after the next
                                  Council website     appropriate information about                         election because
                                  about               areas of interest and expertise                       of the time that it
                                  Councillors‟        for all new members                                   would take to
                                  areas of interest   following the May 2003                                prepare this
                                  and expertise       elections, by December 2003.                          information.
5   Improving Councillor          All Councillors     All Councillors to publicise      Committee                                  £650 per annum
    engagement with their         to discuss and      their arrangements for            services
    communities.                  agree policy on     meeting residents on Council
                                  surgeries, card     web site, in their own areas
                                  system or other     and in local constituency
                                  ways of             areas – first publication Sept
                                  improving           2003.
                                  with their ward

                                                                          40                               Community Engagement Best Value Review
     Issue                        Actions             Target                            Owner               Comments              Resource
6    Develop and improve job      To provide          To introduce job profiles for     Strategy and                              Time involved in the
     profiles for Councillors     Councillors with    Councillors and peer review       Resources                                 preparation of job profiles
                                  more detailed job   system, which will be             Chairman and                              and peer review system
                                  profiles and        developed in consultation         Committee                                 and then in maintaining
                                  develop peer        with Directors/Councillors by     section                                   them.
                                  review system       December 2003, to be
                                  for Councillors     implemented to all new
                                                      members by March 2004.
7    Encourage links with young   Offer the use of    To provide each secondary         Sue Murari                                Possible loss of revenue,
     people                       the Council         school with the opportunity to                                              however likely to be very
                                  Chamber to          use the Council Chamber at                                                  small
                                  schools to hold     least once per year
                                  School Council
8                                 Provide stall for   To respond to reasonable          Susan Bush                                Staff time
                                  each secondary      requests to attend career open
                                  school‟s careers    days at schools by providing a
                                  day                 stand with a member of staff
                                                      on hand to ask any questions.
9                                 Send Birthday       To send a birthday card to all    Kerry Blundell                            £800-£1,000 per year plus
                                  cards to 18 year    young people on their 18th                                                  election staff time
                                  olds                birthday outlining the election
                                                      process to them and telling
                                                      them about Council services

10   Inadequacy of the Council    Scheme for          Develop a scheme which bids       Steve Davies/Sue    In the latest round   Internal staff time for
     Chamber                      refurbishment to    into the capital programme by     Murari              of capital bids the   developing the bid
                                  be devised and      Autumn 2003 and for the                               refurbishment of
                                  presented to        project to be completed in                            the Council
                                  Committee for a     2004/05.                                              chamber was not
                                  funding decision                                                          identified as a
                                  to be taken                                                               Council priority.

                                                                          41                               Community Engagement Best Value Review
     Issue                       Actions              Target                             Owner               Comments            Resource
11   Location of and access to   Review in light      To review the location of all      Electoral           In consultation     Existing members of
     polling stations            of best practice     polling stations to ensure that    Registration &      with election       Electoral Registration and
                                 and new ward         they are in appropriate            Committee           agents, ward        Committee Services
                                 boundaries           location by the end of 2002.       Services Team       councillors.        Team
12   Lack of co-ordination of    Centralised          To develop a centralised           ITCS – to set up    This will assist    Existing member of ITCS
     consultation                updated              consultation database with         database            with the co-        teams time
                                 consultation         information which assist                               ordination of
                                 database for the     officers to consult easier with                        consultation
                                 authority which      their communities by                                   across the
                                 contains             February 2003.                                         authority. This
                                 information about                                                           will hopefully
                                 organisations,                                                              prevent customers
                                 individuals and                                                             suffering from
                                 groups which can                                                            consultation
                                 be consulted by                                                             fatigue
                                 the Council.
13                               Consultation         To develop a consultation          ITCS – to           A consultation      Existing member of ITCS
                                 handbook for the     handbook in consultation           establish           handbook will       teams time
                                 authority – giving   with all staff, which contains     handbook            contain the
                                 guidance to          relevant information which                             following:
                                 officers on how      will assist officer to carry out                       *Examples of
                                 to carry out         effective consultation with                            good practice
                                 consultation         the community by December                              throughout the
                                                      2003.                                                  authority
                                                                                                             *Guidance on
                                                                                                             how to carry out
                                                                                                             preparation and
                                                                                                             *Outline the
                                                                                                             different methods
                                                                                                             of how to consult
                                                                                                             the community

                                                                           42                               Community Engagement Best Value Review
     Issue                         Actions             Target                           Owner               Comments             Resource
14                                 Database of         To develop an up to date         ITCS – to set up    This will allow      Existing member of ITCS
                                   information         information source which is      database of         for better co-       teams time
                                   which officers      easily available to all          information         ordination of
                                   can go to check     members of staff who consult                         consultation
                                   what                with their communities which                         across the
                                   consultations are   contains information on                              authority
                                   taking place and    consultation which are above
                                   have taken place    to take place, have taken
                                   in the authority    place and which contain
                                                       results of consultation by Feb
15                                 Training for all    To prepare a training course     ITCS                Will allow the       Existing member of ITCS
                                   staff (who carry    for all staff who are involved                       opportunity to       teams time
                                   out consultation)   in consultation to explain the                       explain the new
                                   on consultation     new arrangements and                                 co-ordinated
                                   methods across      periodically rerun the session                       approach to
                                   the authority       for new staff by December                            consultation
                                                       2003.                                                which the Council
                                                                                                            has adopted
16   Poor communication with the   Adoption of an      To develop a communications PR officer               The                  Existing member of staff
     public – we are not keeping   external            strategy with SMART targets                          communications       time.
     them informed of what is      communications      in consultation with staff by                        strategy would
     going on                      strategy            January 2003.                                        cover – internet,
                                                                                                            pamphlets, notice
                                                                                                            boards, press
                                                                                                            press release to
                                                                                                            talking books,
                                                                                                            Plain English
                                                                                                            documents and
                                                                                                            corporate identity

                                                                          43                               Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                                                                     Appendix A

                         Member Services – Current Position August 2001

(a) Members‟ Interaction with constituents
(including surgeries, local “party”
organisations, representation on local
organisations and user groups, dealing with
individual constituents, engaging the
community, engendering civic pride)
Purpose Of Service                                  To ensure that local councillors are in touch with
                                                    the views of all their constituents and use the
                                                    knowledge to inform decision-making.
How much does it cost                               The total budget for allowances to Councillors to
                                                    cover all Councillor activities is £112,700
                                                    Surgeries – Council accommodation for
                                                    surgeries is free to Councillors.
How many staff are employed                         No dedicated staff, other than BT staff time for
                                                    payment of allowances and expenses.
Costs of service broken down between:               Expenditure is largely confined to payment of
                                                    Members‟ allowances and expenses.
                           supplies and services    None
                        payments to contractors     None
                                               IT   None
                         departmental recharges     None
                                support services    None
              capital payments (lease/rental etc)   None
                                        income.     None
Who are stakeholders                                    Individual residents
                                                        Councillors
                                                        Voluntary Organisations, user groups and
                                                           school governing bodies. Local business
How does it perform against targets (nationally     There are no national or local targets
and locally)
What are the outcomes of the service                Good communications between constituents and
                                                    councillors, useful input from local
What formal policies currently exist?               There is no specific requirement for Councillors
                                                    to hold surgeries, attend local “party” meetings
                                                    or represent the Council on local organisations
                                                    (including school governorships) and therefore
                                                    the amount of time and effort varies considerably
                                                    from one councillor to another.
Key Issues for service                                   Problems for Councillors (especially
                                                            those with full time jobs) in juggling

        Do all Members feel they can play as
         great (or small) a role as they wish to?
        How do we raise the profile of
         Councillors in the community?
        Do all Councillors feel they are in touch
         with local views?
        Should we publicise their work more?
        Should each group of ward members
         have a leaflet to put in with the Welcome
         packs for new householders?
        How to interest more people in becoming

45   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                                                                      Appendix A

                        Member Services - Current Position August 2001

(b) Services to Members (including providing
information and advice for Councillors,
Members‟ Room, Members‟ Briefing, Training
and courses, stationery, typing & copying, post
& courier, PCs etc)
Purpose Of Service                                  To ensure that Members have the tools and skills
                                                    they need to enable them to fulfil their roles.
How much does it cost

How many staff are employed                         No dedicated staff. The Head of Committee
                                                    Services, Committee Administrators, Document
                                                    Support Unit and, ITCS staff, Town Hall
                                                    attendants, secretaries and many other staff all
                                                    spend time on these services.
                                                    Staff time spent helping/advising Councillors is
                                                    estimated to cost approx. £**
                                                    Members‟ Briefing.        190 hours pa (Barb) +
                                                                              150 hours pa (other
                                                    Training/Briefing         50 hours pa
                                                    Members‟ Room.            20 hours pa
                                                    PCs                       296 hours pa
                                                    Stationery, typing,       76 hours pa
                                                    copying, printing.
                                                    Post, courier, despatch 350 hours pa
                                                    General info &            **
                                                    Year Book & Diary.        80 hours pa
                                                    Memberships of            180 hours pa
                                                    Committees & outside
                                                    Database of               70 hours pa
                                                    Members‟ Guide
Costs of service broken down between:
                              supplies and services
                           payments to contractors -
                                                 IT £43,025 (of which £15,440 is staff time)
                            departmental recharges
                                   support services
                 capital payments (lease/rental etc)

                                                  46   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                             income None
Who are stakeholders                                    Councillors
                                                        Staff
How does it perform against targets (nationally and No national or local targets

What are the outcomes of the service                 Councillors feel they have the skills and
                                                     information and support needed to perform their
What formal policies currently exist?                None

Key Issues for service                               Do we need a more structured training
                                                     programme for Councillors?

                                                     Is the Job description useful ?

           Note - Average working hours per annum = 1692 (based on average of 5 weeks‟ leave).

        ** Suggest we ask senior staff to keep a record for two separate weeks of how much time
        they spend on queries/assistance to Councillors (not including preparing reports for
        committee meetings)

                                                   47   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                                                                          Appendix A
                         Member Services - Current Position August 2001

(c) The Mayor & Civic Events
Purpose Of Service                                     To raise the profile of the Borough and promote
How much does it cost                                  Mayor‟s allowance - £ 11,820
                                                       Mayor‟s Car - £ 11,620
                                                       Mayor‟s Secretary - £12,000
                                                       Chauffeur - £19,000
                                                       Civic Expenses - £ 4,400
                                                       Robes - £310
                                                       Total - £59,150 + Chief Executive and
                                                       Committee Admin time)
How many staff are employed                            1.5FTE (Mayor‟s Secretary & Chauffeur) plus
                                                       estimated .0.05 FTE Chief Executive, Committee
                                                       Administrators). Total 1.55FTE
Costs of service broken down between :                 See attached sheet from Policy Book
                             supplies and services
                          payments to contractors
                           departmental recharges
                                  support services
                Capital payments (lease/rental etc)
                                          income. None
Who are stakeholders                                  Residents
                                                      Local voluntary organisations, charities
                                                       & businesses
                                                      Mayor and Mayoress
                                                      Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayoress
                                                      Staff
                                                      Other Councillors
                                                      Aldermen & Freemen

How does it perform against targets (nationally and    No national targets but see attached for cost
locally)                                               centre targets relating to Mayor

What are the outcomes of the service                   The community gains through the charitable
                                                       work of the Mayor. The Mayor reinforces
                                                       Borough identity. The Council gains through
                                                       having a way to recognise the work of
                                                       individuals and groups in the community.
What formal policies currently exist?                  None

Key Issues for service                                        The car – nearing the end of its life
                                                              Mayor‟s Allowance – should elements of
                                                               it more properly be the Council‟s
                                                              Roles of Mayor and Deputy not defined.

                                                      48   Community Engagement Best Value Review
        How do we keep up with best practice?
        The Chamber – see 3 (d) below

49   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                                                                APPENDIX Ai

Table 1

Epsom & Ewell Exchange Panel September 2001

         53% of respondents said they know what a Councillor does
         88% of respondents think that Councillors make decisions at meetings
         44% of respondents know who their Councillor is
         64% of respondents would find out who their Councillor was by telephoning the
         56% of respondents would contact their Councillor by telephone
         71% of respondents think Councillors should hold regular open sessions for the
          public to visit them

Table 2

Survey of Epsom & Ewell Councillors – September 2001

         60% highlighted balancing activities as a Councillor (i.e. meetings, reading papers for
          meetings) with spending time engaging with the community as an issue.
         46.7% identified raising the profile of Councillors in the community as an issue
          which should be investigated by the review team.
         73.4% identified the need for a more structured Member training programme.
         46.6% identified making meetings more friendly to the community.
         60% identified an updated job description for Councillors as being important
         20% identified getting best value out of the mayoral budget
         73.4% identified a need for better mechanisms for keeping Members up to date with
          latest developments in local government
         40% identified refurbishing the Council chamber
         86.6% identified encouraging more people to become Councillors.

                                              50   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                                                                     Appendix B
                      Electoral Services – Current Position August 2001
(a) Electoral Registration
Purpose Of Service                              To ensure that an accurate register of those
                                                eligible to vote is compiled and maintained for
                                                the Borough. Those not on the register cannot
How much does it cost                           £57,500 (2001/02 Estimate) + additional
                                                £5,000 to meet service pressures.
How many staff are employed                          One Member of Staff is occupied for
                                                        approximately 70% of her time on
                                                        electoral registration.
                                                     One part time assistant is recruited for
                                                        15 weeks in the autumn to input data
                                                        from forms
                                                     Temporary staff are employed (paid by
                                                        household visited) to undertake house
                                                        to house canvass of non-returning
                                                        households (Cost varies from year to
                                                        year depending on how many
                                                        households have to be visited. Cost in
                                                        2000 was £3,977)
Costs of service broken down between:

                                        staffing £42,000
                          supplies and services £11,760 (forms, postage)
                       payments to contractors £4,980 (software licence)+ £350 pa for
                        departmental recharges (included in staffing figure)
                               support services £600
             capital payments (lease/rental etc) 0
                                        income £1,790 (sale of register - charge is statutory)
Who are stakeholders                                  Those eligible to vote in the Borough
                                                      Staff
                                                      Election agents and candidates
                                                      Mail Order companies
How does it perform against targets (nationally The BVPI relating to return of Form “A”s has
and locally)                                     been deleted since the introduction of rolling
                                                 registration in 2001, which means that the
                                                 numbers on the Register change every month.
                                                 Prior to deletion the Council was in the top ¼
                                                 of authorities.
                                                 The BVPI relating to turnout at Local Elections
                                                 is affected by the Council‟s ability to maintain
                                                 an accurate and complete register, but it is only
                                                 one of many factors governing turnout.
What are the outcomes of the service             The percentage of forms returned following the
                                                 canvass in the autumn. The number of electors
                                                 added to and deleted from the Register during

                                               51   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                                 the remainder of the year.
What formal policies currently exist?            None at Member level. The Section aims to
                                                 adopt best practice and to achieve
                                                 improvements in the service every year, either
                                                 in the form of increased percentage of eligible
                                                 persons registered or in ensuring that wards
                                                 where return is low are specifically targeted.
Key Issues for service                                Increasing availability of forms –
                                                         electronic methods.
                                                      Ensuring accuracy and promptness of
                                                         information about newly occupied
                                                      Encouraging the young to register –
                                                         Birthday cards?
                                                      Should the Council consider omitting a
                                                         stage of the canvass in order to reduce
                                                      Introduction of the new “2 tier”
                                                         Register for opting out – during 2002
                                                      National development of the Local
                                                         Authorities Secure Electoral Register


1. The Local Government electorate (2001) is 52,366, representing an increase of 17 over 2000.
This is the 10th consecutive year showing an increase in electorate.

   2. This is the first year of rolling registration. On average, some 95 people have been added
      and 100 people deleted from the register each month since the rolling register was
      introduced in February 2001.

   3. The cost of compiling and maintaining the register is calculated at £1.19 per elector. This
      compares with Reigate & Banstead (£0.86), Taunton Dean (£1.01), Tandridge (£1.41),
      Sutton (£152).

   4. On average each year 650 young people reach the age of 18 and register to become
      electors in Epsom & Ewell.

                                              52   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                                                                 Appendix B
                      Electoral Services – Current Position August 2001
(b) Elections Administration
Purpose Of Service                              To conduct Borough Council, County Council,
                                                Parliamentary and European Elections and any
                                                Referenda that may be called, in accordance
                                                with statutory regulations and rules.
How much does it cost                           £42,790 (2001/02 estimate) for elections
                                                administration. The Home Office or the
                                                County Council reimburses additional costs
                                                relating to expenditure on hire of polling
                                                stations, payment for Presiding Officers and
                                                counting staff etc. when elections are
                                                administered on their behalf. The full cost of a
                                                large election is in the region of £80,000.
How many staff are employed                     No permanent staff. Committee
                                                Administrators and the Electoral Registration
                                                Administrator spend the equivalent of 1 FTE
                                                per annum, averaged over 5 years. The work
                                                tends to be concentrated into about 6 weeks.
Costs of service broken down between:

                                       Staffing £41,300
                          supplies and services £1,490
                       payments to contractors
                        departmental recharges
                               support services
             capital payments (lease/rental etc)
                                       income. SCC or Home Office Grant
Who are stakeholders                                  Electors
                                                      Candidates and Agents
                                                      Staff
                                                      Surrey County Council
                                                      Home Office/Electoral Commission
How does it perform against targets (nationally Percentage turnout for Local elections is no
and locally)                                     longer a BVPI. The last local (i.e. Borough
                                                 Council) elections were in 1999, when turnout
                                                 across the Borough averaged 29%
What are the outcomes of the service             Successful conduct of elections

What formal policies currently exist?            None. The conduct of elections (other than for
                                                 the Borough Council) is the responsibility of
                                                 the Returning Officer who is not responsible to
                                                 the Council. The work is very tightly
                                                 controlled and specified by legislation leaving
                                                 very little scope for local variation. However,
                                                 the Council has agreed that a target should be
                                                 to conduct elections without challenges or
                                                 petitions relating to the responsibility of the

                                               53   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                          Returning Officer
Key Issues for service        Large amount of new legislation means
                                 that increasingly expert knowledge is
                                 needed – should we re-organise?
                              Need to review polling districts and
                                 places to accord with new boundaries
                                 coming into force in 2003 and to ensure
                                 good access whenever possible.
                              How to combat decline in voting,
                                 recognising that physical problems are
                                 peripheral to the general loss of interest
                                 in elections.
                              Desire to move towards electronic
                                 systems of voting and/or counting if

                         54   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                                         Appendix C


Surrey Constituencies         %                Constituencies adjacent to
                              Turnout          Greater London
South West Surrey             70.3
Mole Valley                   68.9
                              67.3             Brentwood and Ongar
                              66.2             St Albans
                              65.3             Slough
                              64.4             South West Hertfordshire
                              64.3             Tunbridge & Malling
                              63.9             Sevenoaks
                              63.9             Welwyn Hatfield
East Surrey                   63.3             East Surrey
Epsom & Ewell                 62.8             Epsom & Ewell
Guildford                     62.7
Esher & Walton                61.9             Dartford
                              61.2             Watford
                              60.9             Windsor
Spelthorne                    60.8             Spelthorne
Reigate                       60.7             Reigate
Woking                        60.3             Hertsmere
                              59.8             Harlow
Surrey Heath                  59.5
             National Average 59.4             National Average
                              58.7             Beaconsfield
                              58.4             Epping Forest
                              58.1             Billericay
                              56.9             Chatham & Aylesford
Runneymede                    56.1             Runneymede
                              55.1             Basildon
                              54.8             Broxbourne
                              48.8             Thurrock

4th out of 11 Surrey constituencies
9th out of 24 constituencies adjacent to Greater London
213th out of 659 constituencies nationally

                                               55   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                                                          Appendix D

Surrey districts (average all   %
divisions)                      Turnout
Waverley                        67.54
Mole Valley                     67.16
Tandridge                       65.06
Guildford                       62.08
Epsom & Ewell                   61.58
Elmbridge                       60.72
Woking                          59.89
Reigate & Banstead              58.77
Spelthorne                      59.54
Surrey Heath                    59.39
Runneymede                      56.25

               County Average 61.63

                                          56   Community Engagement Best Value Review
                                                                                                                                                                   APPENDIX E


                                1                       2                      3                     4                       5                          6                           7
                          Early Voting       Electronic Voting &     Electronic Counting    Extension of Polling          Mobile                  Weekend voting            All Postal voting
                                             Counting                                             Hours            Ballot Box
Authority             1.Blackburn            1.Salford                   1.Broxbourne       1.Leeds                1.Sunderland               Watford                    1.Bolton
                      2.Blackpool            2. Stratford on Avon        2.Three Rivers     2.Mole Valley          2.Watford                                             2.Doncaster
                      3.Chester                                                                                    3.Windsor &                                           3.Gateshead
                      4.Coventry                                                                                   Maidenhead –mobile                                    4.Stevenage
                      5.Kingston upon Hull                                                                         & early see column 1                                  5.Wigan
                      11.St Helens
                      12.Stoke on Trent
                      15.Windsor &
Cost additional       1.£2668                1. £5,700 (one ward)*   1. £1,300 * (semi-    1. £16,500              1.£400 (teams visited      -                          1. £4,800 per ward *
to normal             2.£ 760                2. £325,000             automated system)     2. £2,330               35 residential homes)                                 2. £3,950 per ward
election cost (for    3£4,732                                        2. £10,245* (fully                            2. £2,000 (teams                                      (+£5,000 for
whole Borough,        4£16,000                                       automated system)                             visited 30 residential                                publicity)*
except where          5£1,225                                                                                      homes).                                               3. £2,250 per ward
marked*)              6£2,000*                                                                                     3. See column 1                                       (+£6,500 for
                      7.£19,806                                                                                                                                          publicity)*
                      8.£7,765*                                                                                                                                          4. £3,600 per ward*
                      9.£11,865                                                                                                                                          5. £3,500 per ward*
                      10.                                                                                                                                                s
                      11 £4,779
                      12 £3,649*
Average               £9,159                 -                       -                     £9,415                  £1,200                                                £3,620 per ward (+
                                                                                                                                                                         publicity costs)

                                                                                           57                                             22b3dc2d-0fa9-4703-9cc5-376925402ecc.doc
Additional cost     1.£1.84       1.£3.61              -                     1. £1.94   1. £1.63           -                          1. £1.24
per voter           2.£1.92       2. £3.87 (averaged                         2. £4.05   2. £4.00                                      2. £1.12
                    3£4.00        over 7 years)                                                                                       3. £1.50
                    4£4.70                                                                                                            4. £0.79
                    5£0.63                                                                                                            5. £2.91
                    9 £9.75
                    11 £8.67
                    14 £4.00
                    15 £11.66
Average             £5.94         -                    -                     £2.99      £2.81                                         £1.51
Increase in         1.1%          1. Decrease          Not a consideration   1. 0.2%    Not measured       --                         1. 13.04
turnout over last   2.Decrease    2. Decrease                                2. 1%
                                                                                                                                      2. 15.63%
local election      3. 1%
                    4.No change                                                                                                       3. 28.5%
                    5.0.2%                                                                                                            4. 11.1%
                    6 Decrease
                    7 Decrease                                                                                                        5. 8.6%
                    9No info.
                    11. 0.9%
                    12. 2%
                    13. 2%

                                                                             58                        22b3dc2d-0fa9-4703-9cc5-376925402ecc.doc
Problems        Relies on good            Some systems not          Semi-automated          Late declaration of    Extra staff needed        -                         Not supported by all
experienced     publicity.                reliable. Power           system – would need     result.                since election team                                 public and parties
                Has to be run either at   supply critical – some    to purchase 2 bar-                             are working on                                      because is not secret
                one location with         polling stations          code readers per                               preparing for issue of                              and is seen as open to
                separate desks for        needed extra power        ward.                                          postal votes. Must                                  fraud. Large number
                each ward or at           points. Car batteries     2. Fully automated                             time visits to homes                                of rejected ballot
                separate locations for    supplied as back-up.      system – Machines                              carefully to avoid                                  papers. Election
                each ward. Extra staff    Machines too heavy        cannot read ink or                             meal times, times                                   timetable too short to
                resources needed to       to be carried by POs.     deal with folded                               when residents are out                              allow time for
                record who has voted      Queues caused by          papers (e.g. postal                            etc.                                                printing and issuing
                so that on polling day    voters taking a long      votes).                                                                                            ballot papers in time.
                the registers held by     while to read                                                                                                                Council would not
                POs show this info.       instructions. Partially                                                                                                      have enough staff to
                Use of different          sighted voters cannot                                                                                                        run whole Borough.
                locations from usual      read screens.                                                                                                                Need a lot of advance
                ones produces                                                                                                                                          publicity and a back
                confusion                                                                                                                                              up system for people
                                                                                                                                                                       to vote in person on
                                                                                                                                                                       election day.
Advantages      Can choose a good         Quick count.              Semi-automated          Convenience for        Although many voters      -                         Most popular way of
                location for disabled     Less equipment            system provided         voters – enabled 2 –   would have used a                                   voting in surveys.
                access. Helpful for       needed than               speedier counting and   3% of electorate to    postal vote, they                                   Increased turnout.
                those who prefer to       conventional voting       small savings on        vote who said they     prefer to vote in
                vote in person but         less storage            count assistants‟       would otherwise not    person.
                who cannot be there       needed.                   time/cost.              have done.
                on polling day
Overall         Is no way of telling      Too expensive- costs      No particular benefit   Both schemes           No evidence of            Not permitted by          Too expensive – it
Assessment of   whether any increases     triple that of normal     for the community.      appeared to produce    increase in turnout but   Home Office, because      would double the cost
pilots          in turnout were           election. Equipment       The fully automated     small increase in      it is a facility          both Saturday &           of running an election
                attributable to the       not yet reliable (but     system actually took    turnout                appreciated by the        Sunday are of             for Epsom & Ewell
                early voting facility     Powervote seems the       longer than a manual                           elderly.                  religious importance      and staffing it would
                since in some areas       better of the two).       count and election                                                       to a significant          not be possible.
                they were the same or     Ballot papers had to      agents found it                                                          number.
                less than increases in    be produced as back-      confusing..
                non-pilot. Although       up..
                those who use the
                facility seem to be
                mostly “old” voters, it
                seems to be much

                                                                                            59                                          22b3dc2d-0fa9-4703-9cc5-376925402ecc.doc

       Each of the above pilot schemes required legislation and the permission of the Home Office. Part of the conditions attached to running the pilot
       was that the authority should carry out a survey of the public, election agents and candidates (as appropriate) to seek their views.

The key findings of the many of these surveys in terms of increasing turn-out indicated that:

              Most people who did not vote, did not do so because they were not interested in local council matters;
              Many people who did not vote said they did not because they had no knowledge of the candidates, their policies and what they hoped to
              Many people said they would not vote because they had no idea what the current councillors had achieved;
              When asked to rank their preferred method of voting, postal voting was the favourite, with voting in person at a traditional polling station
              The higher turnout resulting from all postal ballots did not appear to have an impact on the candidates‟ shares of the votes

                                                                                60                                      22b3dc2d-0fa9-4703-9cc5-376925402ecc.doc
                                                                                            Appendix F
                        Consultation – Current Position August 2001
Epsom and Ewell Exchange Panel
    1992 and 1994 residents survey.
    The panel has been in existence since 1996 renewed in 2000 following new DETR
    It has been used to conduct surveys into Crime, Recreation, Environmental Health,
      Refuse collection, Street Cleansing, Epsom Town Centre and the Council‟s information
      provision. There have also been two Residents Surveys that covered a wide range of
    The life of the original panel came to an end in 2000. For two reasons:
    That the panel members were no longer typical residents in terms of their knowledge of
      council services and issues.
    New Best Value guidance on user satisfaction performance indicators has determined the
      need for a completely new sample of borough residents.
    7000 residents were chosen at random from the electoral register and invited to take part
      in the Epsom and Ewell Exchange 1433. This has now reduced to 1253.
The 2000 residents survey which contained the questions specified by the DETR went out in
October/November 2000, April 2001 Residents Survey.
Purpose Of Service                               The Epsom and Ewell Exchange Panel allows
                                                the council to have a cost effective mechanism
                                                to find out the views of the community.
                                                Survey can be carried out when needed either
                                                with the full panel or with a sample drawn
                                                from the panel.
How much does it cost                           Staff time – 102.5 = £6150.00 Charged at
                                                £420.00 a day – April 2000 – March 2001.
                                                Other costs depend very much on size of
                                                survey. All those surveyed receive £3.00
                                                vouchers for a local store, when returning a
                                                completed questionnaire.
How many staff are employed                     The Epsom and Ewell Exchange Panel is
                                                managed by the ITCS team. There is no single
                                                resource responsible for the database of
                                                information. If a notification of change of
                                                address comes through then it is the
                                                responsibility of the whole team to take
                                                responsibility for updating the database.
Who are stakeholders                            Key stakeholders.doc Please see below.

How does it perform against targets (nationally    Citizens Panels.doc Please see main report for
and locally)                                       some comparison information.
                                                   Telephone around other authorities to find out
                                                   the following information

                                                          Do you have a citizen‟s panel?
                                                          Number of people on the panel?
                                                          Response rate of panel?
                                                          Do you give incentives to panel

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                                              Type of surveys, which you send out to
                                                 panel members?
                                              How did you carry out your corporate
                                                 user satisfaction survey?
                                         Is your Citizens Panel managed in-house? If
                                         no, who manages it?
What are the outcomes of the service     Research reports, which inform policy-making
What formal policies currently exist?     Consultation Strategy 2000

Key Issues for service                          Whether we need a Citizens panel
                                                Whether if it is run internally
                                                Is it the best way to provide the service
                                                Whether a company could run the
                                                 service a lot better than it is currently
                                                 run internally
                                                Could some elements of the service be
                                                 contracted out
                                                Could we make better usage of the
                                                Do we feedback effectively enough to
                                                 the panel

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                                                                                       Appendix G
                               Contents of Consultation Handbook

1.0   Community consultation the context
      1.1 Best value and wider context

      1.2 Principles of consultation

2.0   Introduction
      Why this handbook has been produced

3.0   Consultation groups in Epsom and Ewell
      A list of some of the consultation mechanisms which already exist in Epsom and Ewell

4.0    Getting started

       4.1     Working together

4.2    The questions which you need to have in mind when planning any

       4.3     Appointment of consultants

       4.4     Equal opportunities

       4.5     Hard to reach groups

       4.6     Checklist

       4.7     Stakeholder analysis

5.0    Tool and techniques


       5.2     Telephone panel /surveys

       5.4     Exhibitions and open days

       5.7     Self completed questionnaires

       5.9     Focus groups

       5.12    Citizen‟s juries

       5.14    Postal panels

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      5.15   Planning for real

      5.17   Public meetings

      5.19   Staff panel

6.0   Consultation diary

7.0   Useful publications

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                                                                                      Appendix H
Key stakeholders   Interest                   Impact                      Strategy
Members of the     Have put themselves        Wouldn‟t need to            Group to decide best
Epsom and Ewell    forward to take part in    know about the              way forward – Issues
Exchange Panel     Market research. If        review unless some          to consider
                   there were any major       major changes were
                   changes to the panel       going to be made to                  Whether we
                   then they possibly         the Exchange Panel.                   would like to
                   would not be very          If a change in how the                ask the
                   happy.                     panel was going to be                 Exchange
                                              managed wouldn‟t                      Panel what
                                              necessarily need to be                they think are
                                              informed.                             the benefits of
                                                                                    being a
                   If we would like to        Need to join the                      member of the
                   measure why people         questions to an                       Exchange
                   are members of the         existing questionnaire.               Panel are?
                   panel then we would
                   need to ask them.                                      Suggested that we
                                                                          may get in contact
                                                                          with a couple of
                                                                          members and ask
                                                                          them some questions
                                                                          about the service.

                                             65            22b3dc2d-0fa9-4703-9cc5-376925402ecc.doc
                  Service managers can     If the review proposes      If there were changes
4   Service       use the Epsom and        to make significant         then need to keep
    Managers      Ewell Exchange panel     changes to the way          them aware of all the
                  whenever they need to    the panel is going to       options and ask how
                  undertake any            be managed then we          they would prefer for
                  consultation with the    need to keep them           the Exchange Panel to
                  community. The           informed. At present        be managed.
                  panel provides them      carrying out market
                  with a cost effective    research for a service
                  mechanism for            manager is relatively
                  carrying out market      straight forward
                  research.                because it is managed
                                           internally. If this was
                                           going to change then
                                           managers would need
                                           to be informed so that
                                           they could make
                                           adequate budget

                  Councillors rely on    If it was decided from        Need to decide the
5   Councillors   the Epsom and Ewell    the review that an            most appropriate time
                  Exchange Panel as a    Exchange Panel was            at which to consult
                  trusted mechanism for  not needed then               with Councillors
                  gaining the views of   Councillors would
                  the public             need to be involved.
                                         It would also be
                                         useful to present them
                                         with possible
                                         alternatives and find
                                         out their views as to
                                         how they can most
                                         effectively be
Community as a    The Exchange Panel     If there was no               Decide whether
whole             provides a mechanism Exchange Panel then             allowing the wider
                  where the views of the it could lead to other        community to become
                  community can more mechanisms which                  involved in exercises
                  accurately be          would allow the wider         would be a more
                  represented.           community to become           effective way of
                  Councillors are        involved with the             finding out the views
                  elected by a small     community.                    of the community.
                  number of the total
                  electorate and so the
                  Exchange panel does
                  allow ideas to be
                  tested on a sample of

                                          66            22b3dc2d-0fa9-4703-9cc5-376925402ecc.doc
                      the population
Other agencies e.g.   The agencies use the     Impact of the review      Need to ask other
County Council,       Exchange Panel to        could be that we          authorities how useful
Health authority      find out the views of    cannot continue to        they find the Epsom
                      the community. The       offer the Exchange        and Ewell Exchange
                      Exchange Panel is        panel as a mechanism      Panel.
                      used as an effective     for community
                      mechanism to find out    consultation
                      the views of the
                      community which can
                      be utilised quite

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                                                                                                Appendix I

                     Communication – Current Position August 2001

Purpose Of Service                              To ensure that we communicate effectively
                                                with the public with a view to keeping them
                                                informed of and involving them in Council
What service is provided now                    Borough Insight – 3 times a year
                                                Website – regularly updated
                                                Local media
                                                Borough notice boards
                                                Libraries – leaflets and posters
                                                Best Value Performance Plan
                                                Council Tax leaflet
How much does it cost                            Approx £37,000 per annum for
                                                Website/Community Poll
How many staff are employed                     Insight – 1 person, but not main part of duties
                                                Borough Boards – 2 people only a few hours
                                                per fortnight
                                                Website – 1 person, time varies
Costs of service broken down between :

                          supplies and services
                       payments to contractors
                        departmental recharges
                               support services
             capital payments (lease/rental etc)
Who are stakeholders                             Insight - The majority of residents in the
                                                 Website – those with Internet access/access
                                                 Local media – those in free delivery area
                                                 Borough notice boards – local residents
                                                 Leaflets – those who request them or pick
                                                 them up
                                                 Bourne Hall users
How does it perform against targets              -
(nationally and locally)
What are the outcomes of the service             The effectiveness of the consultation and
                                                 involvement of the public
What formal policies currently exist?            The Public Relations Officer is currently

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                                   writing an external communication document.
                                   Insight – magazine 3 times a year
                                   Public relations – local press
                                   Borough Notice boards – updated twice a
                                   Website – currently maintained by ITCS,
                                   although some areas will be taking
                                   responsibility for the upkeep of their own
                                   Access points in public places – Town Hall,
                                   Ebbisham Centre
                                   Resident‟s Panel – covered in Consultation
                                   Leaflets – available at the Town hall, libraries,
                                   Posters on show at the Town Hall, libraries
Key Issues affecting the Service   Borough notice boards – tendency to get
                                   vandalised depending on the area

                                   Should Insight be produced more regularly
                                   than every quarter - too much news for the
                                   current number of issues of Insight
                                   Businesses do not automatically get a copy of
                                   Insight so may not be aware

                                   Local press – do they get the message across
                                   in a positive way for the Council? Surrey
                                   Mirror does not have any coverage in Epsom,
                                   although all other areas in the County are
                                   covered. The papers decide what should be
                                   printed, may not necessarily be what they
                                   were sent – local authority stories are not top
                                   priority to the media – public may not be
                                   aware if not mentioned in paper

                                   Website – making sure constantly up to date

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                                                                                                                              Appendix J

                  Strengths                       Weaknesses                       Opportunities                     Threats
Borough Insight   Issued to all households in      Too much information at        Issue to businesses in addition   Cost issues of
                  Borough.                        present for the number of        to households.                    increasing editions.
                                                  editions, which is 3 per year.   Increase number of editions to    Staff resources.
                                                   Too long a lead time so        quarterly, with a view to         Delivery/postal
                                                  that news is no longer           aiming for 6 times a year.        costs.
                                                   Length of time between
                                                  editions means people forget
                                                  they have had a copy.
Website           Available to all those with     Information may not always       Make individual divisions         May not be so
                  Internet Access.                be up to date.                   responsible for making sure       „attractive‟ as other
                  Remote access point in          May not be able to quickly       the information is up to date.    authorities
                  Town Hall. 40 access points     find information.                Compare with other authorities    Websites.
                  in Ebbisham Centre.                                              and aim to have one of the best
                  All press cuttings are on                                        Websites.
                  Meeting e-government
Local media       Available to all.                Press are very selective       Invest in a „Council‟ page,       High cost of regular
                  „Free‟ papers in circulation,   about what they print.           which could be used for all       Council page.
                  some of which are delivered     Council business isn‟t           Council business. Public could    Increased work
                  to households.                  always hot news.                 be invited to write comments      load for PR Officer.
                                                   Articles are given to the      on page.                          If profile is not
                                                  media, but are changed and       More photographs needed for       raised in local
                                                  sometimes lose their original    illustration.                     press, then message
                                                  message.                         Bring local media on board to     may not get across
                                                   Surrey Mirror does not         be more interested in local       of what the Council
                                                  have any coverage in Epsom.      authority issues.                 is aiming to do.
                                                                                   Help staff write simple

                           Strengths                        Weaknesses                     Opportunities                       Threats
                                                                                           English, without jargon

Borough Notice boards      Good for all local citizens to   Tendency to get vandalised.    Advertise notice boards so
                           look at and read. Currently      Expensive to keep mending.     people know where they are.
                           updated twice a month.           Do people know where they      Introduce a notice board in
                           New notice boards have           are?                           Civic Street with photographs
                           been put up in Ebbisham                                         of members. Incorporate press
                           Centre.                                                         cuttings on „public‟ board in
                                                                                           Civic Street.
Leaflets/posters/publici   Relatively cheap to produce.     May have out of date ones in   Date all leaflets, so latest        If too many leaflets
ty material                Available at libraries, CAB,     circulation.                   edition always available.           are in circulation,
                           Town Hall. Available on                                                                             will they get read,
                           Website.                                                                                            are they inviting to

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                                                                                                                                             Appendix K
Communication Method Enquiries with other Surrey authorities
             Magazine/publication                                      Produced
             about Council Services How often       How is it          internally or                    Other communication Communication
Authority    and local interests?   produced        distributed?       externally?     Contact name     methods             Strategy
                                                    Mostly delivered Produced in-
Elmbridge    Yes                   Twice a year     with free paper house              Jane Lewry       Notice Boards, Website Yes

                                                                                                         Press/Media Service,
                                                                                                         Website, Literature,
                                                                                                         Events, Market
                                                                     In-house                            Research Programme,        Unwritten - will
                                                                     production,       Laurie Will       Corporate Identity,        become written as
             A-Z of services       Newspaper -      Door to door via printed           Senior PR &       Open Days,                 part of Best Value
Guildford    Council Newspaper     every 2 months   Post Office      externally        Marketing Officer Banner & Poster Boards     Review
                                                                                       Kevin Mitchell   Website,
                                                                                       Publicity and    Help Shop,                  No - currrently
Mole Valley No                     -                -                  -               Policy Officer   Notice Boards               working on
Reigate and
Banstead    -                      -                -                  -               -                -                           -
Runnymede -                        -                -                  -               -                -                           -
Spelthorne -                       -                -                  -               -                -                           No

Surrey Heath -                     -                -                  -               -                -                           -
                                                    Post Office -                      Valenza - Media Website. Tandridge
Tandridge    Tandridge Magazine    Quarterly        circulation list   Externally      Officer         Bus once a year.             Yes - received

                                                                                                       Website,         Tenants
                                                                                                       Newsletter,      3 other
                                                                       Content in-                     'local' offices,  Notice
                                                                       house, design Julie Taggart,    Boards, Press Releases
                                                    Ciculated by       and print     PR and            of good news stories     Yes - currently being
Waverley     Yes                   Quarterly        Royal Mail         externally    Marketing Officer etc.                     revisited

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                                                                                                  Website,           Notice
                                                                                                  Boards,       Road
                                  Annually to CTAX                                                Shows (3 times a year),
                                  and NNDR payers                                                 Marketing campaigns,
                                  and to new                                                      exhibitions, publications,
         A-Z of public services   occupiers        With bills       Externally   Alison Burt -    media liaison,             No - will start
Woking   Woking Magazine          Quarterly        With free papers Externally   Public Relations information leaflets       preparing next year

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                                                                                                                                Appendix L

                                      HOW PEOPLE FIND OUT WHAT THE COUNCIL IS DOING

How do you      Local press   Website       Leaflets/newsletters Libraries   Notice boards   Word of               Councillor         Town
find out                                    (including Insight)                              mouth                                    Hall
what the
Council is
Open day        82.1%         2.6%          7.7%                 5.1%        5.1%            5.1%                  5.1%               10.3%
Focus Groups    95.2%         6.4%          51.2%                51.2%       35.2%           4%                    4.4%               12.4%
Residents       86.1%         14.3%         79.1%                -           -               -                     0.6%               12.3%
Staff – on      94.9%         94.9%         97.5%                -           -               -                     -                  -
how they
think the
public should
find out

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