A variety of forums and methods have been utilised to seek the public’s views on the County Council’s efficiency programme and cost reduction proposals.
The methods used were as follows:
Ipsos-Mori were commissioned to recruit participants and run a formal, representative and moderated workshop with Hampshire residents inviting opinions and attitudes to saving proposals, including how services may be run in the future
Inviting online comments, via Hantsweb, as an open opportunity for members
of the public and employees to submit comments. The online consultation ran from 30 November to 19 December 2011. ‘Hampshire Now’, the County Council’s residents’ magazine also included a feature on the budget - signposting people to respond through the relevant Hantsweb pages. Two comments were received electronically
Dialogue with the voluntary and community sector
Dialogue with Trade Union representatives
Dialogue with senior managers and staff.
Living in Hampshire: when asked about living in Hampshire, the participants spontaneously mentioned that they liked the access to the countryside and the outdoor life that Hampshire offered. Moving around the county was thought to be easy, enabling residents to reach places of choice.
Resources: participants spoke about their wish for greater resources for litter, roads, activities for teenagers, childcare, Police and housing. Concern was also shared about some areas becoming over-developed, which led to discussions about whether local infrastructure would be able to cope with a growing population.
Reorganisation of services: residents recognised that some services would need to be reorganised in order to make savings, including sharing services with other public sector organisations. However, the group viewed the Hampshire County Council brand as being very important and if alternative providers were to be involved in the delivery of services, that the County Council should retain strategic oversight. Views on out-sourcing services to private contractors were generally negative, based on the group’s known experience. Again, the importance of the County Council retaining strategic oversight, was stressed.
Online services: participants welcomed more online services being developed, but stressed the importance of alternative support being made available, to ensure full accessibility for all residents.
Sharing services: the prospect of sharing services was viewed as sensible (as highlighted above), as long as the quality of the service provided by frontline staff was not adversely impacted.
Online comments via Hantsweb:
Two comments were received, one related to level of pay and the other provided positive feedback about the overall work of the County Council.
Engagement with the voluntary and community sector:
The County Council has regular dialogue with the voluntary and community sector (VCS) through the Hampshire Voluntary Sector Consortium. A presentation on the budget proposals was made to the consortium in December, facilitating discussion and exploration of related funding issues.
The County Council is developing ‘engagement schedules’ which will provide a vehicle for early engagement of the VCS in the design and development of County Council services, including the early notification of potential commissioning opportunities.
There has been a regular and ongoing programme of discussions and updates with Trade Unions.
Hampshire County Council employees
A communications plan for staff has been operating alongside the public and community consultation on the implication of budget reductions. Staff have received regular communications from the Chief Executive through weekly bulletins, as well as specific staff briefings. Additional communications have been undertaken within each of the departments, via departmental newsletters from Directors, outlining the proposals and implications for each department. Staff were given the opportunity to feedback through e-mail and/or in person, through established mechanisms. Dedicated intranet pages have also provided information to staff on key developments, which are regularly updated as the organisation moves through various stages of transformation.