Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Kingston upon Hull City Council

I refer to the above inquiry, which was brought to our attention by the Local Government Association, and enclose evidence of some of the activities that the City Council has carried out to increase public participation in the democratic process and determine public opinion.

  These documents are based around the following areas:

    (i)  Area Committees;

    (ii)  Ward Fora;

    (iii)  Customer Panel;

    (iv)  Hull700—700Ideas Project;

    (v)  "The Case for Unitary Status—A Survey of Residents";

    (vi)  Highways and Road Safety Public Consultations; and

    (vii)  Town Planning.[8]

  The information supplied should be self-explanatory and provide an outline of the aims, objectives and successes of each of these issues. However, should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

Councillor P J Doyle, MA, LLD, DLitt

Leader of Kingston upon Hull City Council



  The City Council, as part of its move towards a new political structure, set up Area Committees in January 1999. This structure included a Cabinet with a Leader, in line with one of the proposed models set out in the Government's White Paper, Modernising Local Government: In Touch with the People.

  The role of the seven Area Committees is outlined within the Code of Corporate Governance, as attached. The responsibilities of the Area Committees are to engage the public in accordance with Council policy and act as a consultative vehicle for the Council. Area Committee Members also have a role in leading public participation and supporting and creating local groups to build on community participation.

  Each Area Committee has a designated Cabinet Portfolio Holder in attendance whose role is to feed information back to the Cabinet on current local issues and concerns.

  All regular meetings of the Area Committees include a 30-minute question and answer session on local issues and the Committee's business. Meetings are held in public within the area to encourage local participation and transparency in the decision-making process. The meetings have been arranged at different times and venues to maximise public attendances.

  The Council has also set aside £50,000 for each ward within the City to be used for community initiatives. This budget is to be distributed by the Area Committees after consultation with the local community.


  The Council's aim in creating a new political structure was to promote accountability, transparency, integrity and openness. The process has included devolving responsibility for certain service delivery to Area Committees and in the future will involve some disaggregated budgetary control to a local level.


  The Area Committees have particular strengths in providing a public platform for debate on the Council's service provision within the City at a local level. This is of particular benefit when identifying pressures and determining service priorities. The spending of the Community Initiative Budget may also be informed in this way. Its usage is determined through public consultation and funding is spent where the greatest local community needs exist.

  Although the political structure is still in its early stages public attendance levels and participation in the discussion sessions have been encouraging. The variety of questions and concerns raised at these meetings has also been significant.

  The Area Committees also have a dedicated team of officers concentrating on the needs and concerns of the local community and engage in capacity building.

  During the early stages weaknesses occurred in developing the role of the Area Committees. However, this has now been overcome and good practices are spreading and working relationships being built between the Council and stakeholders.


  Area Committees have already become a significant "sounding-board" in the programme of implementing city-wide initiatives such as the collection of household waste in wheeled bins, the housing stock reduction strategy, and housing refurbishments priorities. The circulation of a revised strategy for the collection of wheeled bins within the City to each of the Area Committees brought about a refinement of Council policy. Instead of a single service for the whole of the City, local solutions, where possible, were made available to deal with difficulties raised within each of the Area Committees.

  The Area Committees have also been involved with circulating various questionnaires to their local communities to gain a better understanding of their needs and concerns. Examples of these are attached.

  The Humberside Police has also now amended its area boundaries to tie into those of the Area Committees and a representative of the police is assigned to each of the committees. The police also attend officer meetings, which further develops the partnership approach of the Council and the local police in tackling crime and antisocial behaviour at a local level.


  Area Committee Agenda, Minutes and Papers

  Examples of Public Questions/Concerns raised at Area Committees

  Examples of questionnaires distributed

  Average Attendances by the Public at Area Committees

8   Material relating to items (ii) to (vii) inclusive not printed. Back

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