Present: Councillors Shelim (Chairman), Cannon (Vice Chairman), Knowles and Story
Officers: Suzanne Martin (Electoral & Information Governance Services Manager) and Louisa Dean (Communications and Marketing Manager)
Councillor Shelim welcomed all to the meeting.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Davies and Karen Shepherd.
Declarations of Interest
Councillor Shelim reiterated a point he made at the start of the first working group meeting and the importance of all members sitting on the group making decisions from a neutral standing point. Upon request from Councillor Shelim, Suzanne Martin confirmed that declarations of interest and confirmation that members would be working neutrally and “with an open mind” had not formed part of the notes from the first meeting and there was no record of this point.
It was formally recorded at the start of this meeting that members had no interests to declare and all came to the review with an open mind. Cllr Davies who was absent at this meeting would be asked to make the same declaration at the start of the next meeting.
Suzanne Martin confirmed that there were no formal minutes from these meetings as this was not a formal council meeting. The notes were for internal use only, but she made members aware that the group may choose to publish them on the website for transparency purposes in line with procedures for previous, informal working group meetings that had taken place for polling district reviews etc.
Update on “Direct Consultation” Activity
Suzanne Martin gave an update to members on what activity had been undertaken by Electoral Services to engage directly with consultees following the last meeting on 25 August. She explained that this activity formed part of the targeted, direct consultation and Louisa Dean would be discussing the wider communications plan.
She informed members that the website had been updated to include a number of steering questions to guide electors’ thoughts when responding to the first consultation, which included for example, is there a need for a new town council? What are the communities in the area? etc. She hoped the addition of specific questions would make it clearer to residents how to engage in the consultation and would initiate more of a response.
She explained that following the deadline of 28 August for members to provide names and contact details for organisations/community groups operating in the review area, 5 members for Windsor had helpfully provided some details, in addition to Richard Endacott and Andre Walker of the Windsor Town Council Steering Group. 380 named groups had been supplied, but an overwhelming majority of these names had been supplied with no contact details. Where no contact details had been provided, Electoral Services had attempted to locate email addresses from contact details available online. Having completed this exercise, email addresses for 160 named groups had been obtained.
The following mail out activity had taken place.
- Organisations/community groups/businesses provided by councillors – 160 contacted week commencing Monday 7 September 2020.
- Parish clerks (details already held by Electoral Services) – 15 contacted week commencing Tuesday 1 September 2020.
- Windsor primary and secondary schools (detailed provided by AfC) – 30 contacted week commencing Tuesday 1 September 2020.
- Businesses/local organisations (provided by Windsor Town Centre Manager) – 46 contacted week commencing Tuesday 1 September 2020.
Paul Roach, Windsor Town Centre Manager, had details of other groups who he would be contacting directly about the review as GDPR reasons prevented him from sharing the details with Electoral Services.
All groups would receive a reminder email week commencing Monday 5 October 2020.
Councillor Cannon commented that he felt that where no contact had been made with organisations provided by councillors because no details had been supplied and no contact details could be found online, that an attempt to make contact should still be made. Suzanne Martin confirmed that she would ask the councillors who had provided the details to contact these groups directly to raise awareness about the review.
Councillor Story acknowledged that the number of organisations contacted already was impressive and thanked Electoral Services for their efforts in locating contact details and completing this exercise in such a short time period. He asked whether a definitive list of businesses in the area had been obtained from council tax, which was discussed at the last working group meeting. Suzanne Martin explained that she had been in discussions with the Head of Revs & Bens, but this was not a straight forward process as council tax required the postcodes for buildings in the review area in order to extract these details and could not rely on polling district details only. As postcodes held in the electoral management system related to residential addresses only and not business addresses, it would not be possible to match the two systems’ data.
Councillors Story observed that while some businesses had already been contacted, he felt it important to ensure that the council had contacted all businesses in the review area so that the consultation process was not open to challenge. Councillor Shelim agreed to work with Suzanne to obtain a definitive list of businesses in the area. Louisa Dean also suggested she had a contact who may be able to assist with locating a list of businesses.
Councillor Knowles suggested that the Chambers of Commerce for both Windsor and Thames Valley could be approached to ask whether they could assist in advertising the review and encouraging residents to engage. Councillor Knowles would pass contact details to Electoral Services.
Councillor Story reiterated the importance of ensuring that CCGs, faith groups and the hospitals had been captured in the consultation. Suzanne Martin commented that some churches and health groups had been included in the mailouts. She suggested that Electoral Services would undertake some analysis of the numbers of each group by category, so it was clearer how many private businesses, health groups etc had been contacted.
Suzanne Martin confirmed that she had spoken to Elaine Browne, Head of Law about the review and the consultation exercise and that the list of consultees and wider communications plan would be passed to Elaine Browne for approval in due course.
Councillor Story enquired as to whether any further information had been obtained about Medway Council’s CGR to create a Rochester town council. It was explained that the outcome of Medway’s review was for no change and that the council had opened an online survey asking for views on the existing governance arrangements for the town, followed by an information leaflet about parish councils delivered to electors and businesses in the review area. Suzanne Martin indicated that she planned to ask Medway for details of the online survey and would feedback to members at the next meeting. She would also circulate Medway’s final report endorsing no change.
Councillor Knowles noted that the Windsor Town Council Steering Group had started circulating leaflets about the review this week to raise awareness. It was acknowledged that this engagement activity was helpful and should assist the council’s efforts in publicising the review.
Councillor Story enquired as to whether the Steering Group had yet submitted their report to Electoral Services, which they suggested they would do when they presented to members on 25 August. Suzanne Martin indicated that no report or formal submission had yet been received (apart from requested contact names) and she would follow-up with Richard Endacott and Andre Walker.
Update on wider Communications Plan
Louisa Dean talked members through the project’s communication plan and the communication activity scheduled to take place during the first consultation. She acknowledged that the wider communications would be less impactful than the targeted campaign undertaken by Electoral Services and was expected to initiate less of a response, but there were some activities the council could undertake to reach wide audiences.
Facebook/Twitter – it was confirmed that tweets and Facebook updates had already been published and were scheduled to take place regularly over a continuous period.
Residents’ Newsletter and Library Newsletter – 14,000 residents were signed up to the Residents’ Newsletter and had been contacted about the review. The libraries included messages from the Comms team in their own newsletter, and Comms would speak to them about organising an article about the review.
Around the Royal Borough – members were advised that it was extremely unlikely that ATRB would be in circulation again as it wasn’t an effective way to communicate with residents and members should not rely on this communication channel.
Press releases – Louisa confirmed that these should be issued in the first instance to Windsor Observer and Express, which could then by followed by a Radio Berkshire interview. Cllr Cannon agreed to take part in any planned interviews and act as spoke person. Councillor Knowles acknowledged that press releases and interviews sounded like a good idea but highlighted the importance of ensuring that printed articles about the review appeared in the newspapers. Louisa Dean agreed to put all of these actions in place.
Marketing Panel – it was mentioned that the Marketing Panel on the front page of the website was an effective way to draw residents’ attention to the review. A feature on the review had already appeared on the Marketing Panel for the first fortnight following adoption of the Terms of Reference at Council, but further features would be scheduled by the Comms team.
Any other business
Councillor Shelim reiterated to all members the importance of ensuring that key messages and actions arising from these meetings were disseminated to the wider councillor cohort and that all political groups were ensuring this took place.
Suzanne Martin commented that she would be contacting Berkshire Records Office for historic maps of the Windsor area, as previously requested by the group. Maps dating back to 2001 were available on the Local Government Boundary Commission’s website. Councillor Knowles commented that Windsor and Eton Historical Society may be able to assist in locating historical maps and would make contact and update the group at the next meeting.
It was agreed that the date of the next meeting would take place week commencing Monday 28 September 2020. The group commented that they preferred more regular, shorter meetings to remain abreast of developments during the consultation.
The meeting which began at 3pm finished at 4.05pm.