Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 26

Memorandum by Medway Council

Further to your request through the LGA for evidence of innovatory approaches to citizens' participation in local government, we would like to submit a recent initiative the council ran to consult on transport. The initiative "Moving Medway Forward" aimed to provide information on what direction local people thought transport policy should be developed in the Medway area with a view to incorporating their contributions in the Local Transport Plan. This consultation process had three distinct phases but the outcomes of each phase were linked and the recommendations from phase one fed into the next and so on.

  The first phase was a citizens' inquiry on transport. This approach recognised the complexity of the issue being explored and provided an opportunity for a team of local people (broadly representing all the key sections of the community) to learn about these issues and consider the evidence presented from a number of expert and lay witnesses. This phase of the project was run on a citizens' jury model but with the addition of allocated Council Member observers who followed the inquiry throughout and were to provide the link with the second stage of the consultation.

  The second phase provided an opportunity for councillors to explore and consider the inquiry team recommendations. This phase was organised as a workshop event with representatives from the inquiry team presenting and discussing their recommendations with councillors, followed by smaller group discussions to explore the recommendations in more detail and consider some of the implementation issues that may arise should the recommendation be adopted.

  Phase three involved a survey of Medway citizens' panel which involves some 1,500 people from throughout Medway, who as a whole are representative of Medway's population. The survey was designed to seek broad based feedback from residents on the transport policy recommendations being proposed from phases one and two. It also provided an opportunity to collect information that would be vital to effectively implementing these proposals.

  The findings of this initiative have been well received by residents, council member and technical transport officers. Given that the inquiry formed the initial phase of the initiative the recommendations were rooted in an informed citizens view. Their recommendations proved to be both practical and innovative. Members have warmly welcomed the fact that the recommendations reflect the real concerns of local people and are not beyond the bounds of the council's financial constraints.

  A steering group that involved representatives from some of the main transport providers in the area oversaw the initiative. They too have welcomed the recommendations and are exploring how they can act on those elements that relate to their areas of concern.

  The survey of the citizens' panel has provided information that supports the main thrust of the recommendations proposed by the inquiry team and Members. However these findings have clarified that policy implementation will need to prioritise particular improvements on certain parts of Medway and that the travel patterns of local people will need to be addressed through policy initiatives.

  The attached briefing document outlines some of the main findings of the Moving Medway Forward initiative and also describes the process in more detail. I have also enclosed a copy of the summary report from the citizens' inquiry for your information. I look forward to hearing about the progress of the Select Committee Inquiry. Should you require any further information please feel free to contact myself or Sally Morris (Principal Research Officer) on 01634/332755 (e-mail [email protected]).

Stephanie Goad

Head of Policy and Communications—Medway Council


 
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