Use this page to find out more about our Community Engagement Charter, which details how we engage with our community.
About the Charter
The views of our community are essential in helping to inform our decision-making process. The community comprises of residents (including children and young people), parish and town councils, third sector organisations (including voluntary and community groups), and businesses.
We want to ensure that we provide an extensive and meaningful programme of engagement and, when we consult on decisions, that we do this in a timely, clear, and transparent way.
Our Community Engagement Charter sets out our standards for how we engage with our community.
The Charter applies to all of our council staff and councillors. Partner organisations and contractors of our council will also be encouraged to adopt this approach.
We would like to acknowledge and thank members of the Connecting Communities Forums and the 3SG who have participated in developing this Charter, and in particular the work undertaken by members of Bath City Forum, who initiated the discussions.
Building on good practice and learning from our shared past experiences, we have worked with our community partners to develop a set of reciprocal expectations. We want to ensure that we provide a genuine opportunity to work in partnership with our community. This will enable all to participate in more detailed discussions and consultations.
We will do the following:
- Consult on decisions in a meaningful way
- Recognise the demographic and geographical differences across our communities
- Ensure we give full consideration to addressing the climate emergency when we plan our community engagement and consultation approaches
- Ensure we understand the diverse needs of our communities
- Identify, engage and involve all relevant stakeholder groups
- Work with the third sector to engage hard to reach groups
- Ensure we plan and engage early to encourage ‘good conversations’ and build strong relationships
- Utilise existing engagement mechanisms including the area forums and parish liaison and explore new opportunities to engage
- Be clear in our communications, using plain English, and avoiding jargon
- Be clear about what we are aiming to achieve, what decisions are being consulted on and who will make the final decision
- Ensure that there is enough time given for the community to consider and respond to consultations
- Ensure feedback is given following consultation so that the community understand why we have taken the decision
Types of engagement
Engagement encompasses a range of activity involving the community in issues about their local area, of which consultation is only one element. We recognise the different needs of our community, and therefore we will adopt a range of methods and activities for our engagement.
“The Spectrum of Public Participation” below illustrates the different levels of impact, and types of engagement that could be considered.
|Citizen Panels / Advisory Committees
|Consultations (e-consult and paper)
|Participatory decision making
When and how we will consult
It is important that when we consult, we set out clearly why we are consulting, how we plan to consult and how the community can respond, and that afterwards we provide feedback on our decisions.
There is a legal requirement for all councils to consult where there is a legitimate expectation for this to happen. This applies when:
- There has been a clear promise of consultation
- Official guidance or policies imply a promise to act in a particular way
- There is a withdrawal of a benefit with significant impacts to be considered
- The nature of the relationship would create unfairness if there were to be inadequate consultation
Not all council decisions can be determined solely by responses from public discussion. Some are governed by statutory requirements, some are limited by financial constraints, and some involve a range of other factors that require detailed consideration.
We will ensure that any consultation will last a proportionate amount of time, taking account of legislation, nature and impact of the proposal.
If any or all of these limitations are likely to apply we will undertake to make the details available at an early stage.
Those decisions that may have a specific legislative framework which exist within an individual service area or for certain proposed changes, such as with planning and highways, will have clear guidelines for consultation.
The planning department has its own set of minimum standards, which are outlined in the planning policy Statement of Community Involvement.
We will build on-going relationships with the community and make sure its understanding of communities’ views are reflected in all of its decisions. We will do the following:
- Discuss a proposal when it is at a formative stage
- Provide sufficient information to allow intelligent consideration
- Ensure there is adequate time for a considered response
- Conscientiously take responses into account
- Provide feedback on our decisions
We want to give our residents a greater say. We need our community to tell us about issues that matter most to them, and respond to consultations which will help inform our decision making.
Getting in touch
If you have a question regarding the Charter, or you feel that a consultation hasn’t followed the Charter, please email the Connecting Communities team at Connecting_Communities@bathnes.gov.uk, or call 01225 39 40 41.
In order to ensure the Charter remains up to date, we will carry out periodic reviews and ensure any feedback that we receive will be considered in any future updates.