Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the City of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council

Wakefield Metropolitan District Council feels closer to the people in the District than at any other time in its history. It is creating new and powerful platforms for local people to take part in local democracy.

  The Council, which serves a population of 318,800 people, is committed to giving those people a fresh voice in policy-making and decision-taking.

  This has been achieved by exploring the following methods of citizen consultation and participation.


  The first Community Assembly was held in July of this year and there have since been two more. There are four Assemblies which are based on the District's Parliamentary constituencies:

    —  Wakefield

    —  Pontefract and Castleford

    —  Normanton

    —  Hemsworth

  The membership comprises of local Ward Members, representatives from local bodies, community groups etc and meetings are open to members of the public. They have independently elected Chairs and Deputy Chairs and members of the Assemblies have been elected to sit on the Council's Scrutiny Panels, which fulfil a new role in local democracy by scrutinising and questioning Cabinet Committee and Council decisions.

  The Assemblies provide local communities with a voice on the Council and the ability to debate key strategies and policy developments affecting the people of the District.

  The Council wants Community Assemblies to influence political decisions about priorities.


  The aim of the Listening Days initiatives was for Members and Chief Officers to work together to meet the public and use a questionnaire to collect their views on Council services and how they could be improved. They took place on the streets and in the shopping centres of the following towns:

    —  Wakefield

    —  Pontefract

    —  Castleford

    —  Ossett

    —  South Elmsall

    —  Normanton

  The Listening Days were a Best Value exercise using 12 key themes to direct people's responses to the question on which services they considered to be most important. Display panels were commissioned and a Comments Box was available to pick up specific issues not covered by the questionnaire.

  The results of the questionnaire were presented to the Cabinet Committee on 14 December 1999.


  The Over to You Roadshow campaign was carried out over a four week period from 16 November to 11 December 1999.

  The aim of the campaign was to break new ground with a five-stop roadshow touring the District to seek the views of local people on the 1999-2000 Council Budget.


  As part of the national Local Democracy Week (13 to 18 September 1999), Wakefield Council took its Cabinet Committee on tour for the first time, going outside the Town Hall to conduct its business at a local high school. The Local Democracy Week was aimed particularly at involving young people in their work, hence the reason for the high school venue.

  The meeting was open to the public, as normal, as well as senior students from the school. They were given the chance to join in discussions with leading Councillors in a special question and answer session after the formal business of the meeting.


  To emphasise the Council's commitment to the modernisation programme, a video is being prepared which will feature the high school Cabinet meeting, one of the Listening Days and a Community Assembly meeting.

  The video will be screened at future Assembly meetings and at other Council and community events.

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