Here’s a summary of the Decision-making chapter from our “Growing a stronger local democracy” report, published 30th June 2017.
A taster of our findings about Decision-making
We need to have a much stronger focus on genuine dialogue and engagement as part of our changing relationship with citizens and communities across Kirklees. Consultation is not currently enabling active citizens – in fact, it appears to be having the opposite effect. Our citizens want to be part of an ongoing conversation, not stop-start consultation.
We’ve heard that it’s important to give people information throughout the decision-making process. Citizens find this valuable, whether or not they personally agree with the final decision. Democracy isn’t about always being the person who wins – but it is about being part of something and feeling that you have a voice. We need to share more information about how decisions are made, and not just what those decisions are.
One size does not fit all
Citizens would like to have a menu of options for how they can get involved. Decisions shouldn’t just involve “the usual suspects” – we need to value the knowledge of our citizens and be clear about who we need to hear from for each decision. We can’t consult on every decision, but we can be more selective in our methods – and get better informed decisions as a result.
Changing our meetings culture
Our meetings should not be hard to follow or engage with. Meetings provide an ideal opportunity for the council and our councillors to engage, share and foster a wider understanding of how our local democracy works. We need to say “we’re open for business and you’re welcome”.
Our recommendations about Decision-making
Kirklees Council should carry out a full review of our governance and decision-making arrangements. The review should be based on the issues and core design principles that are set out in this report.
Kirklees Council should revisit our approach to consultation. We should place a greater emphasis on timely, selective citizen engagement as part of the policy development and decision-making process. We should test this on a pilot basis to begin with, and consider models of good practice from elsewhere.
Kirklees Council, in partnership with key providers, should develop a set of democratic content standards which should be used as a basis for all content that we produce and publish as part of decision-making. These should include using clear language, helping people to understand what point we’re at on the decision-making journey and making sure that our content is based on citizens’ needs.
Kirklees Council, working with political group leaders, should develop video narratives in advance of a significant issue being discussed and decided, followed by similar narratives once a decision has been taken. This should include independent reporting from citizen journalists.
Kirklees Council should organise quarterly question time events involving all group leaders. The content and agenda for these events will be set by the citizens of Kirklees. The events will be broadcast and allow the facility for questions to be taken online as well as in person.
Kirklees Council should develop online and off-line interpretive information for the public relating to all of our public meetings. Such information can be used at meetings but can also be part of wider civic awareness about the council and our democratic processes.
Kirklees Council should now take the opportunity to fully explore and implement the full capability of our webcasting technology, beyond purely broadcasting meetings. Taking advantage of the interactive technology that currently exists should be a priority.
Our evidence about Decision-making
Local democracy roadshows
Public inquiry evidence
- Cllr Robert Light, Chair of Scrutiny, WYCA (West Yorkshire Combined Authority)
- Anthony Zacharzewski, Democratic Society
- Sarah Allan, Involve
- Katie Ghose, Electoral Reform Society
- Catherine Howe, Capita
- Prof Cristina Leston-Bandeira, University of Leeds and Digital Democracy Commission
- Peter Macfadyen and Mel Usher, Frome Town Council and Flatpack Democracy
- Tony Browne and Theo Bass, FutureGov and Nesta
- Craig Wright, KPMG
- Ed Hammond, Centre for Public Scrutiny
- Rob Vincent, Electoral Commissioner and former chief executive of two councils
- Cllr Sir Stephen Houghton, Leader of Barnsley Council
- Kirklees Council staff survey results (PDF)
- Kirklees residents e-panel survey results (PDF)
- Kirklees Councillors survey results (PDF)
Discussions and debates
- Partner organisations
- Recently elected councillors (PDF)
- Kirklees Youth Council
- Kirklees democracy debate
- Labour group (PDF)
- Conservative group (PDF)
- Liberal Democrat group (PDF)
- Green and Independent groups (PDF)