Community Governance Review Working Group Thursday 22 April 2021
Present: Councillors Shelim (Chairman), Cannon (Vice Chairman), Davies, Knowles and Hilton
Officers: Suzanne Martin (Electoral & Information Governance Services Manager), Karen Shepherd (Head of Governance), Mark Pattison (Project Management Officer)
Councillor Shelim welcomed all to the meeting.
Apologies for absence
Summary of consultation responses received to date
Suzanne Martin provided an update on the consultation which had been running for almost 2 months. Members noted that so far 130 responses had been received (7 via email and 123 via the online survey) which was an encouraging amount given the total of 69 responses to the first round of consultation. The use of an interactive survey and the leaflet sent to all properties in the review area had led to more engagement. The online survey had gone live on Monday 22 March 2021, the week before the leaflet was sent to all properties in the review area.
Members noted that the responses so far were mixed in terms of whether they supported the formation of a town council or not. Those in favour suggested that money was spent unfairly in Maidenhead, rather than Windsor. There was also a desire for local representation. For those against, comments highlighted that a new layer of local government would create unnecessary bureaucracy and expressed concerns that too many layers of local government could lead to a lack of people taking responsibility. Other comments suggested that the system worked fine with just one tier (the borough council) and therefore there was no need for a town council. Some people objected to paying more in their council tax.
A number of responses also criticised that there was a lack of detail in the proposals, with only allotments guaranteed to be handed over. Some respondents had commented that they felt they could not make a firm commitment because they did not have enough detail.
Members would be sent copies of all responses received so far. When they were published to the website, all personal data would be redacted.
Some responses were very brief; some people had chosen to skip answering some questions. Although there was no word limit on the open questions, very few responses received so far went into any detail.
There were also few comments on the proposed electoral arrangements; just a few that 21 councillors may be too high. There had been no comments on proposed ward boundaries or any alternative names suggested.
Members noted that there had been reports that a number of properties outside the review area in Eton Wick had received the leaflet. The Communications team had confirmed that the leaflet had been sent to every property in the review area. However, they had also indicated there may have been some overlap to a few properties outside the review area because of the way the delivery company operated.
It was confirmed that only one challenge to the consultation had been received, from a local resident. The complaint had centred on the grammar and format of the questions posed. A response had been given, highlighting that as respondents could respond in free text with no word limit they would be able to express all views in detail.
Councillor Hilton commented that so far the response rate was less than 1% of residents. He asked if there was any required level in the relevant legislation to suggest an appropriate level of interest. Suzanne Martin confirmed that there were no levels set in legislation; it would be up to the Members of the Working Group to determine their final recommendations, taking into account the responses to the consultation.
The next meeting would provide some more detailed analysis of themes.
Members requested a ‘heat map’ be produced to show where responses were from. It was felt that it would be useful to know if different areas had differing views.
It was confirmed that responses were coming into the consultation at a steady pace; the latest response had been received the previous day. Further social media promotion of the consultation was planned, alongside reminders in the residents’ newsletter. There would be an extra push after the elections were out of the way and in the run up to deadline.
It was noted that a newspaper advert had also been placed in the Windsor Observer at the start of the consultation period. Councillor Cannon agreed to write a letter to the newspaper in a neutral form, reminding people about the consultation. He would circulate the content to the Working Group before he sent it sent to the newspaper.
Responses to outstanding resident questions posed at town forum
The Director of Law and Strategy had offered to provide a response to the questions posed by a local resident following the recent Windsor Town Forum. The detail would be circulated to the Working Group before being sent to the individual.
Councillor Hilton had contacted the Head of Finance in relation to another question raised at the Town Forum about street lighting. He had not yet received a response so would chase.
The consultation would run until Saturday 5 June 2021. Promotion of the consultation would be stepped up in coming weeks to encourage people to get involved. The next meeting would include a presentation of the next set of consultation responses.
Date of next meeting
The next meeting was scheduled for Thursday 20 May 2021.
The meeting, which began at 4pm, finished at 4.23pm.