In the context of the challenging financial climate and in the face of increasing demographic challenges, Local Authorities are having to reconsider the way in which services are delivered for residents. Conwy County Borough Council is both an enabler and provider of services. It is for this reason that our new internal and external-facing strapline is ‘the right environment’. It is the Council that creates the environment for good things to happen, others will share responsibility for the actual delivery of those good things.
In order to make this change we need to re-set the expectations of communities. We need to enable residents to understand the big picture of where we’re going, and to understand the role they play in how we get there. As a result there has never been a more important time for a strategic approach to the way in which we manage our engagement and communications.
This strategic approach requires a shift away from viewing residents as ‘customers’, who have a transactional relationship with us and expect services to be delivered to a particular standard. Instead we need to engage with residents as ‘citizens’ who have a sense of ownership for services, and take responsibility for the way in which they are delivered.
In making this shift there will be a need for both in-depth engagement with residents, and also simple communications. It’s important to recognise residents will want to interact with us on their own terms in their own way. Some will want simply to search for information, others will want full engagement. We therefore need engagement and communication activities which can deliver across the whole of this spectrum.
These activities will be delivered according to five key principles. Our approach needs to be: consistent, planned, proactive, authentic and accessible to all.
In delivering the actions for each of the five principles above we will need to adopt a new approach to the way in which we make use of our primary engagement and communication channels.
The purpose of all is to achieve the aim of this Communications and Engagement Strategy of building trust and understanding among the residents of Conwy as we move from being the providers to the enablers of services.
The sections explore how we will do this in more detail, and also outline the resources required for delivery. If successful, it will ensure residents support us and work with us as we start to create the service-delivery models of the future.