Hounslow Council votes for “radical overhaul” of public consultations

Image: Hounslow House

Council hopes changes will mean more people are involved in public consultations

Hounslow Council’s Cabinet have voted in favour of a “radical overhaul” of the way consultations and community engagement is carried out in the borough.

At a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (14 May), councillors opted to revolutionise the Council’s approach to public engagement and consultation with a comprehensive overhaul of its operating model. Under the proposed changes, residents will witness a concerted effort towards more inclusive decision-making processes, aiming to ensure that every voice is heard and every opinion matters.

During the meeting, Deputy Leader of the Council Cllr Katherine Dunne said the changes will enhance community engagement by allowing the Council the opportunity to listen to a “broader range of residents”.

“We are a listening council, but sometimes it’s difficult to hear some of the voices because there are others that are quite loud” she added.

Leader of the Council Cllr Shantanu Rajawat said:

“There are groups we struggle to engage with and we should absolutely engage with, their opinion does matter, and they do have a say in the way we design the services that affect them.”

Key highlights of the revamped model include a new ‘engagement vision statement and set of principles’, designed to guide all interaction with the public. This will be supported by enhanced processes within the central Engagement Hub, aimed at coordinating and quality-assuring engagement activities across the borough. The new vision statement says:

“Every resident, business, partner and community organisation should be aware of and able to shape decisions about the subjects which matter to them.

“We are committed to ensuring diverse and representative views are at the heart of our decision-making processes, and clear about what people can shape and what they can’t. This means better

The new principles incorporate and expand upon what are known as ‘the Gunning Principles’, that every public consultation must adhere to in the UK to ensure that they are carried out fairly:

  1. Know the evidence
  2. Make it meaningful
  3. Make it clear
  4. Make it accessible
  5. Review with rigour
  6. Demonstrate transparency
  7. Publish by default
  8. Keep [residents] in the loop

Launch of new Residents Panel, revitalised area forums and new assemblies

A major change is the introduction of a Residents Panel, comprising a diverse group of residents who will actively participate in various engagement activities. Additionally, a Resident Survey will be conducted every two years to ensure a consistent pulse on public opinion.

The Council also plans to establish the Hounslow Assembly and Assembly on the Road, providing platforms for meaningful interaction between residents, businesses, and community organisations. Area Forums will be ‘revitalised’ with increased cross-council participation and more thematic focus, ensuring that each forum addresses the specific needs of its community.

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