A project team was formed from across the council to provide the relevant mix of disciplines, skills and knowledge. This included representatives from the Corporate Management Team and employees who had expertise in; council governance and consultation standards, financial information and budgeting, communications (design, media relations and social media), data and statistical analysis.
The consultation document was developed by the project team with input from relevant colleagues and was reviewed by a focus grouped with a Citizen Led Inspector.
The consultation lasted six weeks and the council used multiple mediums to reach as many people as possible, including; online consultation; paper copies delivered to every home in West Lothian (via an edition of council’s Bulletin newspaper); a targeted plan for hard to reach members of the community, including face-to-face engagement; local press and social media to publicise the consultation; employee and trade union briefings to encourage participation from staff.
Expertise in equalities was also sought and the frontline services including the Advice Shop, Adult Basic Education (ABE) and the Community Regeneration team supported engagement with hard to reach groups and gathering consultation responses from the targeted communications plan.
Over the six week consultation period, a small analysis team worked to analyse over 40,000 individual comments that were received. This included categorising and assigning comments to the appropriate Head of Service to consider and provide a response.
The information from the consultation was then used to set the council’s budget and has continued to inform ongoing modernisation of services.