Graham Watts, Democratic and Elections Manager:
(a) Referred to minute number 37 of the previous meeting where suggestions had been put forward regarding the publicity of committees, the role of councillors and the different services provided by the City Council and County Council.
(b) Invited members to discuss these suggestions further.
Steve Welsby, Communications Manager, in undertaking some research with other authorities had identified that the City Council was not alone in seeking to proactively promote engagement in this way, which provided the authority with an opportunity to take a lead. He referred to journalism students in the city who often contacted him and he always encouraged them to attend meetings themselves in order that they could see first-hand the business being considered.
Councillor McWilliams made the point that people were not going to attend something if they did not know what it was about. She suggested a more modern and innovative way of promoting the role of members and committees through something such as a 60 second video clip, which could be a short and sharp visual way of engaging with and informing residents.
Councillor Lucinda Preston felt that it would be worthwhile engaging with schools, particularly secondary schools, who often had spare slots at assemblies or other sessions to promote democracy.
Councillor Geoff Ellis, in his previous role of Chair of this Committee, had often made contact with secondary schools for this purpose as part of Local Democracy Week but had not received any responses. He agreed in principle but in practice he reported that this had proven to be more difficult than anticipated.
Councillor Preston felt that the timing of Local Democracy Week in October may be one of the reasons for a lack of engagement by schools as this was a busy period for teachers. She suggested that schools would still be worth pursuing, but perhaps at a different time of the year.
Councillor Ellis agreed with this point and in addition suggested engagement with University and College students in the city.
Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Leader of the Council, highlighted that an important aspect of engagement was what people were going to get out of it. As part of his work at the University of Lincoln Councillor Metcalfe was regularly asked for interviews by students, which were almost always related to an assessed piece of work. The motivation for students in that respect, therefore, was that the information would help them with their degrees.
Councillor Tom Dyer emphasised that there was more to democratic involvement than young people and suggested that meetings of the Council’s Executive, and meetings of the Council itself, should be held at different locations throughout the city in order to encourage people to attend.
Councillor Christopher Reid asked whether there had been much engagement as part of the Council’s participation in #OurDay, which was a national social media event promoting local government. He also suggested posting videos from outgoing members to provide an insight from their perspective of having served as an elected member.
Mr Welsby reported that there had been huge engagement as part of the #OurDay event, which had proved to be very successful. The Council would also be participating this year.
Councillor Metcalfe made the point that there was also value in promoting the Council as a significant employer in the city, with people not necessarily knowing or understanding the interesting and important jobs that the City Council provided.
Mr Welsby shared an example of an innovative promotional video that could be utilised by the City Council whereby a person walked down the high street and all of the different services provided by the City Council or County Council were pointed out, making it clear who was responsible for what and highlighted some City Council services that were not necessarily appreciated as being services delivered by the Council.
RESOLVED that the points raised by members be considered as part of the development of promotional and engagement activities undertaken by the Communications Team.