The Citizens' Panel gives us a valuable tool to use in our overall mix of research and consultation that guides decision making. It is a timely and cost effective way for us to reach a wider community view. We have used the Citizens' Panel to draw out community views on a range of Council initiatives.Lex VerhovenStrategy Manager, Hastings District Council
Hastings District Council (HDC) needed to have the ability to reach a wider community voice which can be notoriously difficult to hear from. This was important to achieve to ensure that Council decision-making was guided by the community as a whole and not just those that were the most vocal.
The viewpoints that were gathered therefore needed to be representative of the community as a whole. A solution was required that would complement the existing tools that HDC already had in place to gather public opinion.
PublicVoice developed a Citizens’ Panel for HDC, which provides a timely and cost effective way of capturing regular feedback that is representative of the community.
The HDC Citizens’ Panel has over 1,000 residents who answer surveys that cover a broad range of topics.
The majority of the panel is randomly selected, however, the panel is deliberately inclusive so there are also panel members who have self-selected to be on the panel.
The surveys are designed to be straightforward and enjoyable to maximise response rate and panellist retention. To date, the HDC Citizens’ Panel has been used to provide input for a range of Council initiatives. Surveys have been completed on topics including:
- State of the Environment
- Safe Roads
- The ‘My Hastings’ publication
- Draft Annual Plan
- Core Council Services
PublicVoice assists with questionnaire design and manages the survey building, data analysis and reporting.
The Citizens’ Panel plays an important part in Hastings District Council’s overall research and consultation mix. By gathering a balanced community view on a range of issues, Council decision-makers can be sure that they have feedback that is representative of the community as a whole and not just the most vocal “squeaky wheels”. The PublicVoice Citizen’s Panel allows HDC to engage with the public in a timely and cost efficient manner.
Respondents are also enjoying being on the panel and having their say. An example of the high engagement of the panel members was the excellent response rate to the survey about the Council Draft Annual Plan. Around 50% of all panel members participated, answering questions ranging from Council assets to recycling initiatives, CBD security and local walkways.