This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Meetings With Area Committee Chairs on Policing'.
Community Empowerment and Local Participation in Decision Making 
Informal Member Working Group Meeting 
Committee Room 1, 5.30 pm to 7 pm on 25 January 2011 
 
Agenda 
 
1.  Update from Strategy and Resources on 17 January and views of North 
Area Committee members on taking the project forward    
The scope of the Pilot was agreed and a report has been provided to North Area 
Committee inviting members to prepare a programme for the next year to try out the 
different approaches. North Area Committee will discuss this on 27 January 2011. A draft 
programme showing what could feature in the Pilot is included in the NAC report.   
 
2. The views of partners on the Pilot 
The Police are supportive of the approach and are keen to get involved in the facilitation 
of a Café event to get the views of local people on community safety priorities. They are 
prepared to extend this offer to other Area Committees rather than wait for the Pilot to run 
its course. The local GP Consortium has been approached, but it may too early for them 
to formulate an engagement strategy. The County Council are keen on our approach but 
have not, as yet, offered subjects for Café events or determined areas for delegation, 
although discussions are ongoing. 
 
3. Options for Planning 
North Area Committee will be considering how to separate out the consideration of local 
planning applications into freestanding meetings. The role of Neighbourhood Plans, if 
coterminous with Area Committees, and the present Local Plan or its replacement is 
presently being thought through by planning officers. Cllr Blair and Planning Officers will 
be briefing members and area committees through the next cycle of meetings. 
 
4.  Extending Delegations  
A review of how decisions about area based developer contributions can be taken in Area 
Committees is underway. 
  
5. Freeing up resources at the centre 
To seek initial views from members about lines of inquiry that officers should work on view 
a view to reducing the number of meetings and briefings 
 
6. Role of Senior Officer Lead 
Agree the role of the Senior Officer lead who will act as a single point of contact to help 
shape agenda with the Chair and  “get things done”.  Agree nomination. 
 
7. New Area Committees Web-page 
Please give your views on this new page. It is a starting point, pulling together some of 
what we have already. 
http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/about-the-council/committees/area-
committees/


Area Working – Participatory Pilot 
Informal Member Working Group 
Tuesday 25th January: 5.30pm – 7.00pm 
 
Members present:
 
Sian Reid (Leader) 
Ian Nimmo-Smith (North Area Committee: Chair) 
Amanda Taylor (South Area Committee: Chair) 
Lucy Walker (Labour Group representative) 
 
Officers present: 
Liz Bisset (Director of Community Services) 
Andrew Limb (Head of Corporate Strategy) – Chair 
Trevor Woolams (Head of Strategy and Partnerships) 
Graham Saint (Strategy Officer) 
  
Apologies: 
Simon Kightley (West/Central Area Committee: Chair) 
Tim Bick (Executive member for Community Services and Health) 
Lewis Herbert (East Area Committee: Chair) 
 
1. Update from Strategy and Resources on 17 January and 
views of North Area Committee members on taking the 
project forward    
 
The Director of Community Services updated members on 
progress to date. It was noted that their had been a positive 
response from members about taking the Pilot forward. There had 
been a debate about the definition of neighbourhood and place 
and the extent that the Council alone can respond to local 
problems – we needed a partnership approach. 
 
2. Arrangements for Planning 
 
North Area Committee favoured keeping their existing 
arrangement for considering planning applications, which was at 
the start of their meetings. This would still allow a separation of the 
meeting – as the committee could move into a different room or 
the room layout changed after a short break. If the workload of the 
committee reached a point where the main meeting was squeezed 
too much, members would review whether a separate meeting 
might be necessary.  

3. Running different types of meetings 
 
To make a Café type meeting work we needed to be clear about 
getting appropriate subjects to discuss, why we are engaging, and 
managing any transition to decision-making points later on. An 
example of how it will work in practice will be useful.  
 
The use of surgeries at the start of meetings was supported and it 
was suggested that there were separate tables for wards. It was 
uncertain how long surgeries might last – so there needed to be a 
cut off point to allow the main part of the meetings to start on time. 
It will be important to record agreed actions within the surgeries, so 
that they don’t get lost, perhaps using a contact sheet. These can 
be then included in the committee’s record of action that will be 
posted on the web-page. 
 
4. Views of Partners 
 
Partners, particularly the Police, are supportive of a change of 
emphasis, to make the meetings less confrontational and more 
about working in partnership to resolve community problems. The 
County Council is reviewing the decisions it could delegate, 
highways and children and young people’s provision, but had not 
yet reached a decision. 
 
5. Community Engagement and Promotion 
 
A community engagement plan was being prepared to identify 
opportunities for members to talk to community groups, possibly 
pairing up with people in the community to carry out visits to under-
represented groups, so that their voices can be heard in meetings. 
A draft paper will be presented at the next meeting. It was said that 
it was that it was important to get the product right – so that there 
was something substantial and fresh to promote - that was 
different to our previous practice. This will include changing the 
atmosphere at meetings and making the committees work more 
relevant to community activists. 
 
The committee should look at the demand there might be for a 
Facebook page and if there were any willing community 
representatives who might moderate it. This might present a 
challenge to run a site outside of the local authority’s control. 
Proposals for developing a site were being prepared by officers. 

 
There is a small budget (£2k) to support North Area members to 
improve engagement and facilitation with local community groups. 
A suggestion was made that it could contribute to a street forum or 
“walk and talk” events. Officers will bring more detail forward at the 
next meeting. 
 
6. Extending Delegations 
 
The decisions taken at scrutiny committees over the past year 
were being reviewed with the intention of identifying the type of 
decisions, based in North Area, which could be delegated to area 
committees. A paper will be presented to the next meeting 
highlighting the decisions that could be taken locally to get a feel 
for the impact on the area committee’s workload and that of the 
scrutiny committees. Work was also taking place to simplify the 
process for using developer’s contributions locally.  
 
7. Role of Senior Officer Lead 
 
Strategic Leadership Team had identified a short list of senior 
managers that might take on the role of the single point of contact 
for the committee, and to help resolve difficulties in delivering 
actions. A person will be selected shortly and the role will be 
discussed and shaped with this person and then presented to the 
next meeting of the working group for consideration.  
 
    
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
Cambridge City Council 
Item 
 
 
To: 
North Area Committee 
Report by: 
Head of Corporate Strategy 
Scrutiny committee:  
NORTH AREA COMMITTEE 
27 January 2011 
Wards affected: 
North Area 
 
 
Community Empowerment and Local Participation in Decision Making 
 
 
 
 

 
1. Executive summary 
 
 
1.1  The Council wants to extend the participation and 
involvement of residents in its decision-making, increasing 
their influence over what happens locally. This forms a 
prominent part of the Council’s vision for strengthening 
community life in the City. Area Committees, where the 
Council has brought its decision-making into local 
communities, will provide a basis for developing forums that 
are welcoming and allow people greater opportunity to get 
involved and explore solutions to problems. 
 
1.2  North Area Committee has been selected as a pilot to try out 
new ways of working that will encourage the engagement of 
local people and allow a wider range of decisions to be taken 
locally. This new approach was discussed in the Council’s 
Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee on 17 January 
2011. Please read the report in Appendix 1, which sets out 
some of the background, learning from other local authorities 
that could be applied and approaches that have an emphasis 
on working in partnership that the pilot can test. The pilot will 
be for a year, starting from 1 April 2011. 
 
1.3  The purpose of this report is to ask members of the 
committee to agree how they will run the pilot and the 
approaches they wish to try out. 

2. Recommendations 
 
 
2.1  The Area Committee is asked to: 
 
a) 
Agree to move regulatory decisions (planning 
applications) to separate sub-meetings. This will 
require additional meetings to be arranged (3.2).  
 
b) 
Agree the approaches to engagement that it wishes to 
test in the pilot, that it feels will extend participation, 
and the timing of meetings to involve interest groups 
(3.11). 
 
c) 
Agree a name for the pilot that will promote interest 
(3.1).   
 
 
3. Background 
 
 
3.1  North Area Committee has complete discretion to choose the 
forms of engagement that members feel will improve 
participation, within the framework agreed by Strategy and 
Resources. The main point will be to get away from the 
traditional committee based approach for non-regulatory 
matters, where councillors sit around a table debating issues 
in front of an audience, who mainly sit and listen. It is 
suggested that a new name for the Area Committee is taken 
up, such as Community Forum or Area Forum to promote 
this new approach. 
 
3.2  To give the pilot more capacity to do things differently it is 
proposed that the formal regulatory part of meetings, where 
planning applications are considered, is split out into 6 
separate sub-meetings. Members will need to agree six 
additional meetings to consider regulatory matters. 
 
3.3  The present cycle of planned meetings, which are scheduled 
to start at 7.30 pm, during the pilot is: 
 
19 May (2011), 14 July, 22 September (2011), 24 November 
(2011), 26 January (2012) and 22 March (2012). 
 
3.4  These meetings could be scheduled to run at different times 
of the day and be placed in a range of other settings, such as 

the Meadows Community Centre, Brown’s Field or Arbury 
Community Centres, to give a fresh feel and to try out new 
approaches. It is important that the approaches to these 
meetings are agreed at an early point to allow awareness of 
them to be raised and promotion to take place in 
communities.  
 
3.5  It is suggested that a community workshop is staged with 
local people to agree a vision and priorities for the area. 
These will then be captured in a Local Community Plan that 
will inform the content of future meetings or events and allow 
for review towards the end of the pilot. The workshop could 
be structured around a number of themes such as local 
policing priorities, environmental issues, young people etc. 
and will be, hopefully, characterised by the energy of 
participants and a common ownership of the issues 
identified. Members may wish to consider holding the 
workshop at a weekend, to make it easier for local people to 
attend. 
 
3.6  The agendas of future meetings would be shaped by the 
priorities shown in the Local Community Plan. The aim will 
be to create a setting in which most people will feel 
comfortable and free to talk, such as a café approach or 
interactive voting. It will be important for the Council’s 
partners feel that they can contribute to meetings, so that 
issues that extend beyond the scope of the local authority 
can be tackled, but also to stimulate partnership working in 
the locality. 
 
3.7  The café approach can hopefully bring in people who don’t 
normally attend public meetings and provide a more creative 
atmosphere. Café type events involve people sitting around 
small tables and are lead by a facilitator who will ask or invite 
questions. The facilitator can either be a councillor or officer. 
 
3.8  The community leadership role of councillors will be 
promoted in café type events as they will each be sitting 
around tables, talking to people at their table, but also 
representing other groups of people not attending. Where 
decisions are required, members can vote from their 
respective tables. Active community representatives can be 

invited to lead discussions about how they are responding to 
local need.  
 
3.9  Interactive voting approaches allow people to give an instant 
view, with votes displayed in summary almost immediately, 
about how they feel about different priorities. This would 
utilise handsets similar to those used by the Youth 
Participation Service. One challenge of this approach is to 
make the subject meaningful and to show at a later stage 
how the views have been incorporated into policy or action. 
 
3.10  The use of “surgeries” on a 1-2-1 basis before meetings has 
been shown elsewhere to help meetings run more smoothly 
and provide greater satisfaction for residents, as they can 
talk freely about their individual issues and do not need to 
raise them in an open meeting. It is proposed to incorporate 
surgeries into this new approach. Community Fairs, where 
local groups get together, have also proven popular ways to 
improve networking for Area Committees and Forums as 
they give people a feel for what is available and can attract 
new volunteers for the groups.  
 
3.11  Table 1 in Appendix 2 shows how the new approaches could 
be distributed across the six meetings. Local people, 
councillors, partners and officers are invited to propose 
matters for discussion, in addition to the Council’s own more 
routine decisions that have featured in previous meetings, 
that might be relevant to various interest groups. The timing 
of the meetings should reflect the needs of the group, e.g. 
young people will require an earlier meeting. 
 
3.12  An important aspect of the pilot will be the way it follows up 
on its agreed actions, coordinating responses within the 
Council and from partners, and communicates with local 
people. A senior officer, single point of contact, from the 
Council will look to make “things happen” and help the Chair 
shape the content of meetings so that they are interesting as 
possible. People should enjoy the meetings and want to 
come again, but also feel they have been listened to and that 
their problem will be addressed, where possible. An ‘Issues 
Log’ will be maintained and can be posted on the Area 
Committee’s web page (see below). 
 

3.13  Of course not everyone can or has the inclination to attend a 
meeting. Alternative forms of engagement, such as through a 
dedicated web-page or social networking, will be more 
attractive to certain groups of people who are familiar with 
these approaches. A proposal for the use of Facebook or 
Twitter will be worked up. Members will need to decide 
whether this is administered from within the Council or from 
within the community. Members may also want to try ‘pairing 
up’ with, say, a youth worker, to go out and engage young 
people and understand their local issues so that they can be 
brought back to the area committee meetings. 
 
3.14  A new web-page for the Area Committee has been put in 
place and can be found here: 
http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/about-the-
council/committees/ 

 
 
This page is a starting point and can be developed as the 
 pilot 
progresses. 
 
4. 
Preparations for the pilot’s launch 
 
4.1  As the pilot is scheduled to start in April the Area Committee 
will have a further meeting on 24 March to review 
preparations for the launch and to develop its programme 
(forward plan).  The knowledge members and non-elected 
community representatives have about their communities 
and groups will be crucial in developing the pilot. By the 
March meeting it will be helpful if both members and 
participants can: 
 
o  Make contact with different groups of people, to 
encourage involvement in the community workshop, 
and to get the views of people who are less inclined to 
participate, so they can be fed in. For example, by 
visiting elderly people in sheltered housing schemes, 
young people in youth clubs or BME residents at their 
own community meetings. We could facilitate this by 
‘pairing up’ some members with a City Council officer, 
partner officer or community representative who work 
with specific groups (e.g. a youth worker, sheltered 
housing officer, community development worker etc.) 

o  Contribute to an ‘area profile’ so that it uses existing 
information from things such as surveys and crime 
statistics to inform the workshop. 
o  Suggest issues to include within the workshop and the 
pilot’s programme 
o  Tell people about the new approaches   
 
5. Devolving 

Decisions 
 
5.1  Whilst improving people’s experience of meetings and giving 
local people greater influence is a key aim of the pilot, it will 
be important that the pilot will be able to do more, especially 
in the priority areas it has identified. For example, officers are 
presently looking at how greater influence over the way 
developer’s contributions are spent can be given to area 
committees.  
 
5. Implications 
 
 
5.1  Environmental  
 

A more participative and devolved approach to decision 
making presents significant opportunities to encourage and 
support local people and local groups to become more 
environmentally aware so that they can help to improve the 
environmental sustainability of their neighbourhood. The pilot 
could be used to engage more local people in environmental 
projects. For example, around energy efficiency.  
 
5.2  Community Safety 
 
This proposal would help to develop a more participative 
approach to neighbourhood policing and local community 
safety by bringing partners together with local people and 
collectively setting local priorities and exploring solutions to 
problems. 
 
5.3  Equal opportunities 
 
The proposal for the pilot is flexible and inclusive and will 
enable Members to use different participatory events, 
depending upon the issues and the local people who are 
concerned about them.  
 
 
We are aware that some people are less inclined to attend 
area committee meetings. For example, young people, BME 

communities and people with mobility impairments. Our 
engagement methods must seek to address this by engaging 
with them in different ways. 
 
 
An Equalities Impact Assessment will be carried out as part 
of the monitoring process for the pilot. 
 
5.4  Financial, procurement and staffing 
 
 
The Pilot will be supported by an officer from Strategy and 
Partnerships working with other officers from Community 
Development and Committee Services. The pilot will require 
a proportion of time from a Head of Service or senior officer 
to give direction in meetings to coordinate meetings and 
ensure actions are completed. The pilot will also require work 
from front line officers, depending upon any additional 
budgets and/or decisions that are devolved. 
 
The Pilot will inform Members about options for the way local 
services might be delivered for the 2012/13 and 2013/14 
portfolio planning and budget processes, should they choose 
take some of the approaches forward.  
 
 
No additional resources in terms of basic service delivery or 
capital expenditure will be re-directed from other area 
committees to the pilot area. 
 
6. Inspection of papers and contact for information 
 
Background papers can be found at the following link: 
 
a) 
Summary of learning from visits to other local authorities in 
September 2010. 
 
 
b) 
Notes from member workshops in October 2010. 
 
 
http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/democracy/ecCatDisplay.aspx?sch=doc&cat=12
994&path=12993
 
If you have a query on the report please contact: 
 
7.  Appendices: 
 

1.  Community Empowerment and Local Participation in 
Decision Making North Area Pilot: Strategy and Resources 
Committee, 17 January 2011. 
2.  What could feature in the Pilot 
 
 
Author’s Name: 
Graham Saint 
Author’s Phone Number:  01223 457044 
Author’s Email:  
[email address] 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Appendix 2. 
Table 1. What could feature in the Pilot  
When 
How and what could feature? 
24 March 2011 
Area Committee agrees a communication and engagement 
Area Committee Meeting 
plan to inform and publicise the community workshop 
19 May 2011 
Member and officer surgeries to be held at the start of meeting 
Area Committee Meeting 
for half an hour. 
Café type meeting. Officers present Area Profile Information 

 
and final arrangements for Community Workshop 
4 June 2011 
Community Workshop to launch pilot. This will discuss a vision 
(Saturday) 
for the area and priorities to be worked on in smaller groups. A 
community plan to emerge from the event containing priorities 
that can be looked at in more depth during other meetings. 
This type of meeting may be better suited to an early-evening 
or afternoon. Meeting to use interactive voting to help identify 
priorities – perhaps for neighbourhood policing priorities? 
 

 
Member and officer surgeries to be held at the start of meeting 
14 July 2011 
for half an hour.  
Café type meeting - Discussion about how Workshop went 

Area Committee Meeting 
and to agree local community plan. 
 
 
 
Member and officer surgeries to be held at the start of event 
22 September 2011 
for half an hour.  
Café type meeting to discuss various environmental 

Area Committee Meeting 
improvements or ideas for neighbourhood improvements and 
 
use of community development grants. Could include 
community representatives talking about local issues. 
 

24 September 2011 
Community event to review progress against Local 
(provisional) 
Community Plan and to review the participative approach to 
give people the chance of discussing in small groups how the 

(Saturday) 
pilot is going and what can be improved. This will feed into the 
Or could be incorporated  Council’s decisions about how to extend the pilot to other 
into the 22 Sept meeting 

areas. 
 
Member and officer surgeries to be held at the start of event 
24 November 2011 
for half an hour.  
Café type meeting to discuss local issues that could perhaps 

Area Committee Meeting 
include how GP Commissioning is being developed. 
 
 

Member and officer surgeries to be held at the start of event 
26 January 2012 
for half an hour.  
Café type meeting to discuss local issues that could perhaps 

Area Committee Meeting 
include how local community facilities are run.  
 
 

Look for an earlier meeting in the day to involve young people 
talking about life in the area and problems. Community Fair 

22 March 2012 
networking event to help promote community life.  
Area Committee Meeting 
 
May 2012 ( tbc) 

Community event to review progress against Local 
Community Plan and review and agree new priorities. People 
to be asked to review the success of the pilot. This will inform 
a final report to Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee 
making recommendations for more radical changes across all 
4 area committees. 


Community Empowerment and Local Participation in Decision Making 
Informal Member Working Group Meeting 
Committee Room 1, 5.30 pm to 7 pm on 7 March, 2011 
 
Participants  
Councillors: Tim Bick, Ian Nimmo-Smith, Lewis Herbert,  Amanda Taylor, Simon Kightley. 
Officers: Liz Bisset (Director of Community Services), Andrew Limb (Head of Corporate Strategy),  
Trevor Woollams (Head of Strategy and Partnerships), Graham Saint (Strategy Officer) 
Apologies 
Cllr. Sian Reid and Jonathan James (Head of Customer Services)  

Agenda 
 
1. Notes from the first meeting on 25 January 2011 
These are shown in pages 1 to 3 for the information of members. 
 
2. Increasing decision-making.  
 
The attached paper, at pages 4 to 9, looks at decisions taken in Scrutiny Committees over the past 
year, highlighting those that might be delegated to area committees in the future. Members are 
invited to give views about the decisions highlighted. 
 
3. Senior Officers to support Area Committees 
 
Jonathan James, Head of Customer Service, has volunteered for this role for the Pilot and has met 
with Ian to discuss how he can support North Area Committee. Other Heads of Service have also 
come forward to offer support to the other Area Committee Chairs, although this may work on a 
different basis outside of the pilot. Members are invited to discuss how this role could assist the 
work of Area Committees. 
 
4. North Area and Community Engagement. 
 
Ian has now met with Community Development Managers to discuss how the Area Committee can 
engage with local people both within and outside its meetings. A draft paper has been prepared 
showing an approach for cascading information about the Pilot, based on a "Networking Pyramid". 
A draft paper is at pages 10 to 12. 
 
5. Sharing Good Practice 
 
Area Committee Chairs are invited to share their good practice. The Pilot is looking at timing its 
agenda and using a Community Forum Session within its meeting to engage people in discussions 
about issues relevant to the local community. A suggestion for running a Community Forum 
Session is shown at page 13. 
 
6. Project Initiation Document (PID) 
 
A PID document, which is at pages 14 to 25, is for the information of members. This document has 
been considered by SLT. A project team will be convened to shadow the Member Working Group. 
 

Area Working – Participatory Pilot 
Informal Member Working Group 
Monday 7th March: 5.30pm – 7.00pm 
 
Members present:
 
Ian Nimmo-Smith (North Area Committee: Chair) 
Amanda Taylor (South Area Committee: Chair) 
Tim Bick (Executive member for Community Services and Health) 
Lewis Herbert (East Area Committee: Chair) 
 
Officers present: 
Liz Bisset (Director of Community Services) 
Andrew Limb (Head of Corporate Strategy) – Chair 
Trevor Woolams (Strategy and Partnerships Manager) 
Graham Saint (Strategy Officer) 
  
Apologies: 
Sian Reid (Leader) 
Lucy Walker (Labour Group representative) 
Simon Kightley (West/Central Area Committee: Chair) 
 
1. Increasing decision-making 
 
It was agreed that principles should be drawn up and used to 
guide the decisions that should be devolved to area committees.  
 
Suggestions were: 
 
• 
Decisions should only go to one committee.  
• 
Decisions about policy should be taken by the relevant 
Executive Member and scrutinised centrally, to avoid the need 
for multiple reporting to each area committee.  
• 
The default position for non-policy decisions is that they will be 
delegated to area committees unless there is a good reason not 
to do so (e.g. they relate to a city-wide decision). 
• 
However, devolved decisions should be of general interest to 
local people to ensure effective use of agenda time. 
• 
Devolved decisions should be taken by the relevant area 
committee within the centrally agreed policy framework. 
• 
If all members of an area committee are inclined to support a 
decision then a vote should be taken as soon as possible to 
leave more time for debate about less consensual issues. 

• 
Executive members should offer some flexibility, to visit area 
  committees and take decisions then and there – without 
 
compromising the scrutiny of the decisions. 
 
 
2. Role of Senior Officer 
 
Jonathan James has taken up the Senior Officer role for North 
Area Committee. Ian had met with Jonathan and agreed with him 
that the role will be developed over the course of the Pilot, 
responding to the needs of people attending, the content of 
agenda and the direction provided by members. Careful thought 
will need to be given to how officers contribute, especially County 
officers, to avoid some from feeling unsupported in meetings. 
County Executive members to be invited to respond to high profile 
issues.  
 
The principle of having a single officer point-of-contact for the 
committee is something the committee will work towards. The 
present action sheet will be developed to more accurately log 
issues and actions, and give feedback – the “you said, we did and 
are going to do” approach.  
 
3. North Area and Community Engagement 
 
The use of identified community leaders and active community 
groups to cascade information to local people, to promote 
meetings and engagement events was accepted. An early meeting 
between members and officers involved with community groups 
will be arranged to identify engagement opportunities for members 
outside of meetings and to plan for the community event that will 
help identify local priorities for North Area Committee.  
 
4. Sharing Good Practice 
 
The next North Area Committee on 24th March will be trying out a 
Community Forum session within its meeting – to mainly discuss 
the future of the library service. We will use this to learn form the 
experience and to inform future approaches. Emphasis will be on 
collective problem-solving rather than confrontation.  
 
The agenda for the North Area Committee will be timed so that 
people know when the items that are of interest to them start. The 

following Community Forum will be include community safety and 
is likely to try out a surgery.  
 
Area Committee Chairs should continue to share good practice 
and learn from each other’s meetings. The idea of Chairs attending 
each other’s meetings, to see how they are conducted, was 
welcomed.  
 
It was also agreed that people attending Area Committee meetings 
should be given priority over members in terms of giving their 
views about an item. This will help to make the meetings more 
participative and enable members to hear resident’s views first 
before they debated an issue amongst themselves. Discussion 
between members will be kept to a minimum. 
 
5. Project Initiation Document 
 
The Project Initiation Document was accepted. 
 
6. Next Meeting 
 
It was agreed that the next meeting of the Group will be on 29th 
March at 12 noon in Committee Room 1, subject to discussion with 
members not present.    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

North Area Committee: Participation Pilot 
Draft: Creating a Community Engagement Network 
 
1. Purpose 
 
The purpose of this strategy is to show a community engagement process 
that will create a network of people who will have connections with the Area 
Committee. 
 
2. Why Community Engagement and North Area Committee? 
 
Cambridge City Council and its partners talk to local people and community 
groups about local services, to try and understand the issues that are 
significant and to ask for views about bigger decisions that will affect people’s 
lives. You can view some of the recent consultation activity that the Council 
has carried out by looking at: 
http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/consultations/
 
Sometimes our consultations aren’t always joined up and sometimes they 
might run in parallel to each other, with different parts of the Council asking 
the same groups of people slightly different questions. The Council is looking 
to prepare a Code of best Practice to make sure that a consistent approach is 
used and to make sure that local people don’t get consultation fatigue. 
 
The Participation Pilot for North Area Committee is part of the Council’s drive 
to decentralise, so that elected representatives can connect with other 
community leaders, community groups, people working in front line services, 
communities and individuals to find the best solutions to local needs. This is a 
key part of the Council’s vision for its communities and will be an underlying 
principle of this strategy
 and a central part of the message that we convey. 
 
The Area Committee wants to improve its ongoing relationship and dialogue 
both within its meetings and outside of its meetings through more informal 
activities that come under the banner of community development.  
 
3. Connecting to a wider network 
 
A lot of activities are presently taking place in North Area that give local 
people the confidence to control their own circumstances and contribute to 
finding solutions to local issues. North Area Committee can utilise some of 
this civic energy and provide a useful forum for making things happen and 
removing barriers to participation. It will mean doing things differently and 
thinking of how the North Area Committee can fit in as a part of a wider 
community network, to coordinate local action, rather than acting as a single 
entity in isolation, across different community groups and settings.  
 
Informal engagement, outside of meetings, reaches more people and allows 
people to get involved at a time and in ways that are meaningful to them. The 
more people the Area Committee can reach through such a network will help 
 
1


it obtain more information about what matters to a wider range of local people 
rather just those that attend the area committee meetings.  
 
The way this network is pulled together and connects people to the area 
committee will form part of the process for engagement. This will involve 
people using the network to find out what is going on, sharing information 
about what is happening (and the outcomes of any activity) and feeding in 
what still needs be done.     
 
Within this process for engagement there will be a number of engagement 
events
 and different methods for gathering information and feeding it back.    
 
Diagram 1, below, shows a network or engagement pyramid for North Area 
Committee. It follows a process of increasing contacts between the layers with 
people identifying, in stages, key community contacts who can spread 
messages about how to get involved with the Area Committee, to other 
influential community members and to local people. Between each layer the 
number of people involved increases. 
 
 
Diagram 1: Network or Engagement Pyramid 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
More people contacted as 
 
information is cascaded 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
2

4. Process of Engagement: Creating the Network 
 
This could follow a staged approached, working through the layers: 
 
Stage 1: 
Elected members, together with officers, identify community 
partnerships, community groups and community leaders that are active in 
north area and opportunities for discussion with local people.  
 
Stage 2: Community partnerships are asked to identify community groups 
and events, so that messages can be conveyed and some targeting can take 
place. This will include Arbury and Chesterton Carnivals.  
 
Stage 3: Community groups raise awareness of the Area Committee and how 
to get involved, with their members. Community leaders attend Community 
Plan Workshop in June. 
 
Stage 4: Local people and service users get involved in events and join the 
network.    
 
5. Key Messages  
 
• 
The community forum section of meetings are new and will be run in such 
 
a way that they will give local people a greater opportunity to get involved 
 
and “Have their Say”. Why not give it a try? 
• 
You don’t have to attend meetings to get things done. If you have 
 
something on your mind you can bring it to the attention of members of the 
 
committee and forum and then track the progress of your issue online. We 
 
recognise that there is life going on outside of meetings and want to better 
 
connect with local people.  
• 
The Council and its partners will work harder to join-up their consultations 
 
with local people – so that you only need to tell us about a problem once in 
 
your area. We will ask your views about how community life can be 
 
improved and capture these in a community plan – so that you can see 
 
what the area committee is trying to achieve.   
• 
Local councillors want the Area Committee to be at the “heart” of the 
 
community and want to hear from people that do not usually get to speak 
 
out about local issues. Tell us what is on your mind. 
   
6. Timeline 
 
Aims: 
• 
To get Area Committee members together with officers in a workshop 
 
before the next meeting (24 March 2011). 
• 
To start to get information cascading before the second meeting and to 
 
hold a Community Workshop in June in order to have a draft community 
 
plan ready for the July meeting. 
• 
To use community outlets and newsletters to promote the meetings and 
 
keep the information flowing. 
 
3


North Area Committee: Participation Pilot 
Suggested Room Layout and Approach to Community 
Forum Sessions 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Options for running a Community Forum Session 
 
1. 
Members move to different tables at the start of the session, introducing 
themselves to the people at the table.  Chair remains at the front to help 
facilitate the session. 
2. 
Presenter introduces subject and asks for views on certain points. 
3. 
Chair then, either: 
 
a.  Asks for views from the audience directly, selecting individuals to speak in turn 
b.  Asks the people at the tables to consider the points and then each table to feedback 

to the whole of the meeting, varying perspectives 
 
4. 
Gives the presenter the opportunity of responding to the points raised. 
5. 
The Chair then sums up the main points, which are entered into the minutes 
                       of the meeting. 
Page 1 of 1   

AREA WORKING 
 
Phase 1, North Area Pilot and De-Centralisation  
 
DRAFT Project Initiation Document (VERSION 3 dated 10.2.11) 
 
Area Working  
Project Title 
Phase 1: North Area Pilot and De-Centralisation 
Start Date  
1 January 2011 
Target Completion Date  
June 2012 (Phase 1) 
Project Manager 
Trevor Woollams  
Project Champion 
Liz Bisset 
Commissioning Body 
Strategic Leadership Team 
 
 
 
N:\Strategy & Partnerships\Corporate Projects\Participation Pilot\Member WP Meetings\7 March 2011\Area Working 
- PID draft 3.doc 

Introduction 
 
Background 
 
The project will shift the focus of the Council’s decision making to local areas and will strengthen 
community participation. It will take advantage of the government’s localism agenda, align local 
decisions and local service delivery to the priorities of local communities and contribute towards 
achieving the Council’s Vision. The project has been shaped after visits to selected “empowering” local 
authorities and informed by Member Workshops that looked at ways of improving community 
engagement and participation in decision making. Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee guided 
the development of this project and considered approaches to taking the work forward on 29 March 
2010 and 5 July 2010. On 17th January 2011 the committee considered (and the Leader agreed) 
detailed arrangements to pilot a new approach to area working in the north of the City from April 2011. 
On 27th January 2011 North Area Committee met to plan the way ahead. 
 
The Project 
 
The project will include a pilot for testing new ways of engaging and working with local people to shape 
local priorities and local service delivery and make decisions about local issues in the area covered by 
North Area Committee. The pilot will commence in April 2011 and end in March 2012. 
 
The pilot will be reviewed in September 2011 and at the end of the project and recommendations will be 
made to implement changes across the other 3 areas. 
 
In parallel to the pilot, officers will work with members to identify and evaluate options for reducing the 
amount of central decision making and scrutiny so that resources can be refocused on supporting the 
move to area working. 
 
There will be some things that can be introduced across the City at an early stage without waiting for the 
pilot to conclude. This work will also be included in Phase 1 of this project. 
 
The second phase, involving rolling out change, will be subject to a further PID when the pilot has been 
evaluated.     
 
The Strands 
 
Strand 1: 
Significantly improve community participation in local service design, priority setting and 
decision making. 
 
Strand 2: 
Default is to devolve all decisions that relate to a local area to area committees. 
 
Strand 3: 
Free up capacity from the central decision making and scrutiny process to support area 
working. 
 
Strand 4: 
Encourage partners to work with us and to devolve decisions about their services. 
 
 
 
N:\Strategy & Partnerships\Corporate Projects\Participation Pilot\Member WP Meetings\7 March 2011\Area Working 
- PID draft 3.doc 


Why is the project needed & where does it come from 
 
Area Committees were put in place in late 2003 and the aim was to take certain decisions out of the 
Guildhall and place them in local settings – to increase our transparency and openness. Attendance by 
the public increased significantly, using our central committees as a baseline, and local people have 
valued the opportunity to raise matters of concern with members. In recent years attendance has 
declined and it is felt that the Council needs to do more to involve local people in decisions that affect 
their lives.    
 
The Leader made a decision at Strategy and Resources on 5 July, to develop a Pilot for the area 
covered by North Area Committee to trial approaches to increase community empowerment and local 
participation in decision-making to:  
 
•  Enable local people to agree local priorities for their area 
•  Increase participation and involvement by residents in the work of the Council and partners 
•  Improve local services by making them more responsive to the priorities of local people 
•  Strengthen the role of elected members within their local constituencies and provide 
opportunities for their development 
•  Strengthen local communities 
 
The project assumes there is no additional resource. It will require elected members and officers to think 
and work differently. It has the potential to radically change the way we work. 
 
There are some things we could do now and some things that need more detailed planning and testing 
to ensure that they work and that they are deliverable before being implemented following the pilot. This 
project will build upon the best practice that is presently available and work with a variety of stakeholders 
to bring about improvements to the way we engage and work with local people. 
 
 
 

How does this project help achieve the Council’s Vision Statement 
The Council’s vision includes two statements about strengthening local communities and empowering 
local people in Cambridge: 
  
•  A city whose citizens feel they can influence public decision making and are equally keen to 
pursue individual and community initiatives 
•  A city which is diverse and tolerant, values activities which bring people together and where 
everyone feels they have a stake in the community 
 
This project will improve the influence local people have over our decision-making, help make our local 
services more responsive, involve a wider range of people and provide a vision and practical action plan 
for bringing about improvements. 
 
 
N:\Strategy & Partnerships\Corporate Projects\Participation Pilot\Member WP Meetings\7 March 2011\Area Working 
- PID draft 3.doc 


Identify the objectives and required benefits/outcomes of the project 
 
The outcomes this project (Phase 1) is aiming to deliver through the pilot are: 
 
 
1. 
Significantly improved community participation in local service design, priority setting and 
decision- making. 
 
2. 
Clearly define the scope of decisions that will be devolved to area committees (i.e. which 
decisions are ‘local’ and which are ‘strategic’). 
 

City Council decisions that relate to local areas are either devolved to area committees or plans 
are in place to complete associated work so that they can be devolved. 
 
4. 
Plans to take capacity from the central decision making and scrutiny process to support area 
working are agreed or have already been implemented. 
 
5.  
Public sector partner organisations are fully engaged with area working. The County Council has 
devolved some decisions through the pilot. 
 
 
4. 
Summarise impact on and major issues for Stakeholder & key results of 
 
initial consultation (see stakeholder analysis for detail) 
 
Members have been considering the basis of this project over the course of this year and have become 
more enthusiastic about what it could achieve and how it might transform our organisation. The October 
2010 Member workshops had a high level of support. All members had the opportunity to shape a report 
to Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee on 17th January 2011 which set out a framework for the 
pilot. 
 
Partners, including the County Council and Cambridgeshire Constabulary, have welcomed the initiative 
as they have had concerns about the extent to which they can reach local people directly through our 
present arrangements. 
 
Community representatives have yet to be fully briefed about the proposed approach but early 
discussions with some community groups and residents associations indicate that they would welcome 
the initiative. 
 
Officers have been updated and informed through a Managers Briefing in October and through 
discussions at DMT’s and service team meetings and will be involved in working up the detail of project. 
Heads of Service had input into the report to Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee on 17th 
January. 
 
North Area Committee discussed the pilot and agreed how they wanted it to proceed at their meeting on 
27th January 2011 
 
An Equalities Impact Assessment on the pilot will be carried out as part of an interim review and report 
to Strategic Leadership Team in August 2011 and report to Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee 
in October 2011. 
 
 
 
N:\Strategy & Partnerships\Corporate Projects\Participation Pilot\Member WP Meetings\7 March 2011\Area Working 
- PID draft 3.doc 

5. 
Summarise Key Risks your project aims to mitigate, or risks that might 
 
occur if the project does not take place 
 
Key Project Risks: 
 
1. Reputational  
This is a major project that is a political priority and addresses 2 key areas of the Council’s vision 
statement.  
There is a high risk that expectations of members, partners and residents will be raised but not met.  
Risk that illegal or un-constitutional decisions are made (e.g. regulatory). 
Risk that decision making route unclear or complex leading to delays with projects. 
Devolution of decisions will lead to different decisions and prioritisation across the City which may result 
in negative publicity.  
 
2. Resources 
There are no additional resources (and may be less resources). There is a significant risk that members 
will not be able to reach agreement about how to shift resources (staff and budgets) that currently 
support the centralised decision making to support devolution.  
 
3. Resistance 
There is a risk that some staff, members and/or partners may resist change. 
 
4. Process 
There are risks around not ensuring our corporate and service processes (e.g. delegations) are changed 
or updated and properly communicated to staff and members to facilitate devolution. 
 
5. Governance 
There are risks around blurred responsibilities and accountabilities for staff and members. 
There are risks around ‘keeping control’ of fragmented decision making processes. 
 
 
N:\Strategy & Partnerships\Corporate Projects\Participation Pilot\Member WP Meetings\7 March 2011\Area Working 
- PID draft 3.doc 

6. 
Summarise consideration given to feasibility studies 
 
This project is a pilot which will ‘test’ different options and ideas for strengthening local participation and 
decision making. 
 
Members sought guidance from Inspire East and looked at case studies of  “Empowering Local 
Authorities” in the region to assess the relative merits of different approaches to extending engagement. 
Members also participated in a learning programme that involved visits to six local authorities selected 
from case studies posted on the I&DeA website. This learning has helped shape this project. 
 
The key leaning points from our visits to other authorities were: 
 
• 
Demonstrate commitment by giving a senior officer responsibility for each area committee. Their role 
 
should be pro-active. They should work with the Chair to shape agendas, liaise with partners, follow 
 
up actions and ensure things get done. 
• 
Build community capacity by informing and involving local people and community groups about 
 
opportunities for engagement and how they can influence decisions.  
• 
Agree clear priorities for the local area by working with local people.  
• 
Deliver prompt actions and keep local people informed. Newcastle Council followed the approach of 
 
“You said, We did, We’re working on it” to demonstrate listening and action.  
• 
Provide positive experiences of engagement so that local people feel they have been heard and 
 
want to return. Ipswich Borough Council has made their area meetings much more informal by 
 
placing members in the audience with local residents to reduce any status barriers.  
• 
Don’t expect all local people to come to an evening area committee meeting. Try and match the 
 
engagement method to the interest group. For example, younger people may be far more interested 
 
in engagement through social networking sites.  
 
 
7. 
Summarise considerations for other ways of achieving the objectives 
 
The pilot will enable the Council to test more radical options and assess risk before implementing across 
the City. Full implementation now, without careful planning and thought would be a high risk strategy.  
 
 
 
N:\Strategy & Partnerships\Corporate Projects\Participation Pilot\Member WP Meetings\7 March 2011\Area Working 
- PID draft 3.doc 


Estimate of Project Costs 
The project will be managed within existing resources. But resources will need to be re-focused. 
 
A radical shift in the focus of the organisation away from the centre towards local areas over the medium 
to longer-term will require major changes to the way we work. This will need careful planning, 
communication and implementation. 
 
Many service areas are currently undergoing major reviews and re-structuring whilst managing a full 
workload. The pilot will be moving forward within the context of this major change and some services 
may not have the capacity to engage fully until a later stage.  Some services will not have the same 
capacity as they do now. 
 
 
We will need to move resources that currently support the central decision-making and scrutiny 
processes. This means reducing the number of central meetings, briefings and reducing the amount of 
reports that go through them. It means freeing up officer time, both in support services and those front 
line services where changes are made. 
 
We will need to look at our internal processes. For example, how we make decisions, how we manage 
budgets, how our cost centres are set up, our risk management processes etc. We will need to plan in 
time for our Accountants and Legal staff to do this work. Our aim must be to simplify process and speed 
up decision-making. 
 
There will be some costs associated with wider community engagement and with developing a local 
community plan for the pilot area which can be met from the corporate consultation budget during 
2011/12. 
 
 
 

Estimate of staffing resource – Phase 1 only 
Estimated 
Estimated Duration 
Skill/level/person 
number of 
days 
Start date 
Finish date 
Project Champion 
10 
1 December 
31 July 2012 
Liz Bisset 
Project Manager 
60 
1 December 
31 July 2012 
Trevor Woollams 
Policy / project support 
120 
1 December 
31 July 2012 
Graham Saint 
Head of Service lead for North Area 
15 
1 February 2011 
31 July 2012 
Committee. Jonathan James 
Senior Officer leads for other 3 areas. 
15 
1 February 2011 
31 July 2012 
(To be agreed) 
Community Development Staff to promote 
30 
1 February 2011 
31 July 2012 
meetings and develop capacity in community 
Committee Manger to administer additional 
10 
1 February 2011 
31 July 2012 
meetings  
Web-team to provide internet presence and 
10 
1 February 2011 
31 July 2012 
communication 
Coms team to promote meetings. E.g. through 

1 February 2011 
31 July 2012 
Cambridge Matters 
Planning Policy – need to co-ordinate this 
unknown 
1 January 2011 
31 July 2012 
work with Localism Bill’s move to 
neighbourhood planning 
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- PID draft 3.doc 

Front line service managers. 
unknown 
1 January 2011 
31 July 2012 
To be agreed 
Support services to design / amend processes 
Unknown 
1 January 2011 
31 July 2012 
(Legal and Finance in particular) 
 
10 
Identify any dependencies upon other work or projects.  Identify any other 
projects which cannot progress until this particular piece of work is 
complete 

 
Key to the success of this project is understanding the input required by service managers to refocus 
their services and to prioritise, plan and project manage this work in the context of the wider 
organisational change. In particular we need to ensure that government proposals to localise Planning 
Policy through things such as Neighbourhood Plans, are co-ordinated with this project. 
 
More radical change may not be possible until we have agreed how to significantly reduce the number of 
central scrutiny meetings and briefings.  
 
An outline timetable for the project is attached 
 
11 Governance 
 
Members 
The lead Member for this project is the Leader. She will work closely with the Executive Councillor for 
Community Development and Health and the Chair of North Area Committee. 
 
A Member Working Group has been set up and is meeting monthly. Its role is to guide the project. Its 
members are: 
 
The Leader 
Executive Councillor for Community Development and Health 
The 4 Area Committee Chairs (includes Leader of the Labour Group) 
Leader of the Green Party 
Cllr Walker 
 
Officers 
The lead officer is the Director of Customer and Community Services. She will provide a direct link to 
Strategic Leadership Team along with the Head of Corporate Strategy. 
The Project Manager is the Strategy and Partnerships Manager. 
 
The Project Team will meet monthly. Its role is to deliver Phase 1 of the project. Its members should be: 
 
Liz Bisset 
 
Director of Customer and Community Services   (Project Champion) 
Trevor Woollams 
Strategy and Partnerships Manager  
 
(Project Manager) 
Andrew Limb 
 
Head of Corporate Strategy 
Graham Saint   
Strategy Officer 
Jonathan James 
Head of Customer Services 
 
 
 
Sara Saunders   
Planning Policy Manager 
Ken Hay 
 
Head of Community Development 
Gary Clift 
 
Democratic Services Manager 
Ashley Perry 
 
Corporate Marketing and Communications Manager 
   Legal 
 
 
 
Finance 
 
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11  Project Initiation Approval 

 
Commissioning body:  Strategic Leadership Team 
 
 
 
 
Strategic Leadership Team Date Approved      
 
 
Date:  
 
 
Committee Record of Decision Reference 
 
 
Date:  
 
 
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North Area Pilot and Area Committees – Timeline 
 
Date 
Action / Event 
Comment 
November 
 
 
Tues 9th  
Extended SLT 
Opportunity to clarify process 
Portfolio Plan priorities 
Discuss draft with SLT 
Wed 10th   
1st draft report  
Circulate to SLT, Executive and Cllr INS for 
initial comments  
Thurs 11th  
Manager’s Briefing 
On where we are, how things are shaping, 
how to influence report, comments & 
concerns 
Mon 15th  
Initial comments from Exec 
Any major issues before wider circulation 
& Cllr INS 
Frid 19th  
2nd draft report 
Update draft report and send to all members 
plus HoS 
Tues 23rd  
SLT 
Brief SLT on latest proposals and initial 
Member view. Confirm SLT position. 
Mon 29th  
3rd draft report 
Takes on board initial views from members, 
HoS and SLT position. Sent to all HoS, 
members and partners. 
December 
 
 
Frid 3rd  
S&R drafts 
Brief Chair & Exec  
Lib Dem Group 
Outstanding issues / concerns fed into group 
Mon 6th  
City/County member 
Clarify County commitment 
meeting 
Tues 21st  
Finalise report 
Report agreed with Leader, Exec Cllr CD&H 
& INS 
Wed 22nd  
S&R Finals 
Final report submitted 
January 11 
 
 
Mon 17th  
S&R Scrutiny 
Leader considers Scrutiny comments 
North Area - finals 
Leader agrees /amends report 
Frid 21st  
North Area -Chair Brief 
Brief INS, agree final format for discussion at 
North Area Committee 
Thurs 27th  
North Area Committee 
Discussion about proposals & agree how the 
committee want to take things forward 
February 11 
 
 
Thurs 10th  
Briefing for Managers 
Draft PID, issues, ideas, expectations 
Tuesday 22nd  
SLT 
Draft PID agreed 
 
 
Work with managers – clarify processes, 
roles etc. 
  
Publicity 
 
 
Prepare for community event etc. 
March 11 
 
 
 
 
Engage community groups, prepare for 
community event, Member/officer pairs, 
social networking options etc. etc.  
Mon 14th  
North Area - finals 
 
Frid 18th  
North Area Chair Brief 
 
Thus 24th  
North Area Committee 
Finalise arrangements for pilot 
 
 
On-going work to review central scrutiny 
arrangements. 
On-going work with service managers  
May 11 
 
 
Thurs 5th  
Elections 
 
Mon 9th  
North Area finals 
 
Frid 13th  
North Area Chair Brief 
 
Thurs 19th  
North Area Committee 
Start of pilot, formal / informal split etc. 
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Date 
Action / Event 
Comment 
June 11 
 
 
Sat 4th 
Community workshop 
Community event to discuss and agree local 
(provisional) 
priorities 
July 11 
 
 
Thurs 14th  
Area Committee meeting 
 
Aug 11 
 
 
 
 
Interim report to SLT on how pilot is working 
– issues etc. 
Sept 11 
 
 
Thurs 22nd
Area Committee meeting 
 
Oct 11 
 
 
 
 
Interim report to S&R on how pilot is working 
and proposals for any roll-out at this stage – 
feed into budget 
Nov 11 
 
 
Thurs 24th  
Area Committee meeting 
 
Jan 12 
 
 
Thurs 26th  
Area Committee meeting 
 
Mar 12 
 
 
Thurs 22nd  
Area Committee meeting 
 
Apr 12 
 
 
 
 
Pilot ends, data collection, feedback 
May 12 
 
 
 
Community event 
To review pilot and community plan. Agree 
new priorities. Inform evaluation report 
July 12 
 
 
 
 
Evaluation report to S&R with final 
recommendations. Informs MTS and 2013/14 
portfolio plans and budget 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Community Empowerment and Local Participation in Decision Making 
Informal Member Working Group Meeting 
Committee Room 1, 12 noon 29th March, 2011 
 
Participants  
Councillors: Ian Nimmo-Smith, Lewis Herbert,  Amanda Taylor, Simon Kightley. 
Officers: Liz Bisset (Director of Community Services), Andrew Limb (Head of Corporate Strategy),  
Trevor Woollams (Head of Strategy and Partnerships). Jonathan James (Head of Customer Services) 
Apologies 
Councillors. Sian Reid and Tim Bick. 

 
Agenda 
 
 
 
1. Notes from the meeting on 7 March 2011 
 
These are shown in pages 1 to 3 for the information of members. 
 
2. Review of North Area Committee on 24 March 2011  
 
An oral update from Ian Nimmo-Smith about how the meeting went, especially the new Community 
Forum session, and discussion about learning points to carry forward into future meetings. The 
next North Area Committee will take place on 19 May and is scheduled to try out a new “surgery 
session”. Jonathan James will seek the views of members on how this could be run.  
 
3. Community Engagement and Plans for a Community Event for North Area 
Committee 
 
Trevor Woollams will outline a draft action list for moving towards a community event for North 
Area. A provisional date for this has been set for 18 June at The Meadows Community Centre. A 
meeting between North Area Committee members and officers has been set for 31 March at which 
the extent of the Council’s present community engagement with different groups in the area will be 
discussed and a framework for engaging people in the event set out. 
 
4. Update about Devolving Decisions 
 
At the last meeting on the 7 March 2011, members discussed how decisions might be identified for 
delegation, and these are shown in the meetings notes. Trevor Woollams will discuss with 
members how these can be developed into a set of guiding principles.  
 
5. Sharing Good Practice 
 
Area Committee Chairs are invited to share their good practice.  

Area Working – Participatory Pilot 
Informal Member Working Group 
Tuesday 29th March: 12.00 – 1.00pm 
 
Members present:
 
Sian Reid (Leader) 
Ian Nimmo-Smith (North Area Committee: Chair) 
Amanda Taylor (South Area Committee: Chair) 
Lucy Walker (Labour Group representative) 
 
Officers present: 
Liz Bisset (Director of Community Services) – Chair 
Jonathan James (Head of Customer Services) 
Andrew Limb (Head of Corporate Strategy)  
Trevor Woollams (Strategy and Partnerships Manager) 
Graham Saint (Strategy Officer) 
  
Apologies: 
Tim Bick (Executive member for Community Services and Health) 
Simon Kightley (West/Central Area Committee: Chair) 
Lewis Herbert (East Area Committee: Chair) 
 
1. Review of North Area Committee 24th March 
 
 General agreement that library debate and café format had 
worked well and fully engaged those attending. 
 Parkour presentation was not so good – The learning was to 
fully brief presenters and ensure effective use of display 
apparatus (powerpoint slides were poor) 
 Neighbourhood Plans discussion – many residents had left 
by then and energy levels were low. People were unclear 
about the context and what was being asked of them. It was 
more of a briefing. The learning was that the best 
discussions would be had when ideas were sufficiently well 
formed as to be meaningful but not ‘fully baked’. 
 
SR 
 Area committees are not the appropriate venues for 
briefings. 
 
Need to have detailed agenda planning – Chair must have 
the authority to decide agenda in liaison with Lead Officer. 
 
Need to cut down the numbers of officers attending. 
 
 
INS  Need a table for press with a clear notice.  
 

Name badges for Cllrs and officers attending area 
committees. 
SR  Name plates and badges should be more informal and use 
first names (e.g. Sian Reid, Councillor) 
 
Issues for next North Area Meeting: 
 
 Review publicity of meeting  
 Need additional roving microphones / better sound system 
 Neighbourhood Policing Priorities to be the main 
participatory item 
 Consider table layout by ward 
Action – JJ to liaise with INS, Glenn Burgess and Lynda 
Kilkelly 

 
 
3. North Area and Community Engagement 
 
 NAC Member workshop with Community Development 
officers planned for 31st March 
 Draft action plan for engagement had been produced and 
would be expanded following the workshop 
 Agreed that faith groups (covering all faiths) should be 
included in engagement plans 
 
Action – TW to update action plan after workshop 
 
4. Devolving Decisions 
 
A draft set of Principles had been produced to guide this work. 
Comments were: 
 
 Re-word principle 5 to ensure the democratic process was 
retained. 
 Add a new principle to establish that devolution must not 
require any net additional resource and that preferably it 
should require less resource. 
 The note about option of exploring opportunities for Exec 
Cllrs to take decisions following debate at area committees 
(subject to re-thinking scrutiny arrangements) was noted but 
it was agreed that this should not be included as a principle 
and should not be pursued at this stage. 

 The opportunity should be taken to look at officer delegations 
to identify options for members to consider that could speed 
up processes and free up capacity without compromising 
transparency and the democratic process. 
 
SR – Asked that a paper be produced setting out a ‘devolution’ 
plan, shaped by the set of principles, with options and 
recommendations for members to consider. 
 
Action – TW to update the ‘principles’ and work with 
Project Team sub group to take work forward. 

 
 
5. Sharing Good Practice / Issues 
 
East Area 
LW Problems following up actions with County Council 
colleagues. 
 
Issues on the doorstep were often County Council issues 
 
General   
 
Need to make best use of policing agenda time 
 
- more focused and inter-active 
 - 
shorter 
paperwork 
 
- greater focus on analysis and what happens next 
 
County officers – Mike Davey was keen for County Lead 
Officers to liaise closely with City Lead officers and Chairs 
over agenda planning. 
 
6. Next Meeting 
 
Glenn Burgess will confirm monthly meeting dates / times for the 
rest of the year. 
 
 
 
TRW 5.4.11 
 

Community Empowerment and Local Participation in Decision Making 
Informal Member Working Group Meeting 
Committee Room 1, 5.30 pm to 7 pm on Monday 23 May, 2011 
 
Invited participants  
Leader of Council, Executive Councillor for Community Development and Health, Area Committee Chairs  
Officers: Liz Bisset (Director of Community Services), Andrew Limb (Head of Corporate Strategy),  
Trevor Woollams (Head of Community Development). Jonathan James (Head of Customer Services) and 
Graham Saint (Strategy Officer). 

 
Agenda 
 
 
1. Notes from the meeting on 29 March 2011 
 
These are shown in pages 1 to 3 for the information of members. 
 
2. Review of North Area Committee on 24 March 2011  
 
An update from Ian Nimmo-Smith (Chair of North Area Committee) about how the meeting went, 
especially the Community Forum session, which was focused on local policing priorities, and 
discussion about learning points to carry forward into future meetings. A new “drop-in session”, was 
also tried out for the first time in the foyer, supported by customer service advisors.   
 
3. Update on Community Engagement and Plans for a Community Event for 
North Area Committee 
 
Trevor Woollams will outline progress towards a community “drop-in” event for North Area on 18 
June at The Meadows Community Centre. A workshop involving North Area Committee members 
and officers took place on 31 March to help identify groups of people who could give a view on 
local priorities and be approached about the event. The intention of the event is to help set out local 
priorities that will inform the Area Committees future work and to help promote it to communities. A 
consultation will be launched asking people in North Area to give their views, using a circulated 
post card. An Engagement Plan is attached showing local opportunities to promote the event. A 
contact list has also been prepared .   
 
4. Sharing Good Practice 
 
Area Committee Chairs are invited to share their good practice and opportunities for taking forward 
some of the lessons from the pilot. 
 
5. AOB  

North Area Committee – Engagement Plan  
 
Event 
Date 
Lead Officer 
Description 
East Chesterton 
25th May  Sally Roden/ Andrea Butler Tel 
Brownsfield YCC 
Information exchange  
420309  
Opportunities to talk to residents from 12.45 – 
2.00pm 
Kings Hedges Eat and 
7 June 
Marie Cassidy  
North Arbury Chapel, Cameron Road. 
Meet  
 
Tel 508197  
Opportunities to talk to residents from Kings Hedges 
Area 
The Dec Bus 
7 June 
Janet Parish 
Will be visiting: 
Tel 457810 
Shirley School from 2.45 – 3.45pm 
Scotland Road from 4.15 – 5.15pm 
The Dec Bus 
8 June 
Janet Parish 
Will be visiting: 
Tel 457810 
Mayfield School from 2.45 – 3.45pm 
Arbury Carnival 
11 June 
Binnie Pickard  
Marquee with opportunities to engage residents, 
Tel 508149  
promote the 18 June Meadows event and hand out 
postcards 
The Dec Bus 
13 June 
Janet Parish 
Kings Hedges Primary School, Northfield Avenue / 
Tel 457810 
Aragon Close from 2.45 – 3.45pm 
The Dec Bus 
13 June 
Janet Parish 
Campkin Road Shops from 4.15 – 5.15pm 
Tel 457810 
The Dec Bus 
14 June 
Janet Parish 
Arbury Primary School, Carlton Way from 2.45 – 
Tel 457810 
3.45pm 
The Dec Bus 
14 June 
Janet Parish 
Akeman St (or Bateson Rd if unable to park) from 
Tel 457810 
4.14 – 5.15 
Arbury Information 
16th June  Lexzecia Cayneeo  
82 Akeman St 
Exchange  
 
Tel 508302  
Opportunities to talk to residents from 12.15 - 
1.15pm  
 
The Play Boat 
7 and 14  Paula Bishop 
Opportunity for councillors to attend one of two 

Event 
Date 
Lead Officer 
Description 
June 
sessions (between 4 pm and 6 pm) to talk to users 
of the Play Boat. Play Boat supervisors to promote 
completion of postcards at all sessions. 
Asian Women’s Group 
Dates 
Binnie Pickard / Luthfa Khatun  
Opportunity to engage Bengali women form Arbury 
tbc  
Tel 508149 
and East Chesterton area  
Tenants Meetings 
Various 
Marella Hoffman Tel: 458325 
Opportunity to use existing tenant events and 
meetings to engage tenants about issues 
Rangers Various 
Bob 
Carter 
Opportunities to distribute postcards to residents 
Tel:4578205 
Police 
Various 
Jason Wragg (Sgt.)/Steve Kerridge 
Offer for Councillors to take part in “Insight” Patrols 
(Insp.) 
to find out more about policing in the local 
community 
Opportunities for Police to distribute cards and 
publicise 18 June event during beat walks 
Community Event  
18 June 
Graham Saint / Sally Roden 
To bring together all the issues from the above 
Meadows Community 
and to give people the opportunity to vote on the 
Centre & The Dec Bus 
highest priorities from 10.00am to 2.00pm 
City Homes North. 
22 June 
Bev Clissold Tel 458403 
City Homes officers will be walking around the 
Street Walkabout 
Minerva Way estate with residents from 4.00 – 
6.00pm 
note other street walkabouts are planned for: 
14 July  - East Chesterton  (Dundee close etc ) -  Matt Siggery 
 6 September  -  Cockerell Road / Perse Way   - Nacer Dali   
Chesterton Festival  
25 June   Sally Roden Tel 420309 
Opportunity to engage residents in East and West 
Chesterton at Community Fun Day event 1-5pm 
Pyes Rec Ground  
Arbury Carnival 
11 June 
Binnie Pickard 
For distribution at event 
Sure Start Childrens’ 
various Wendy 
Lansdown 
Opportunities to distribute postcards to residents 
Centre(county) 
699683  

Event 
Date 
Lead Officer 
Description 
Libraries(county) 
various 
Wendy Lansdown  
Make cards available to users 
 
Youth Locality 
various 
Wendy Lansdown  
Explore opportunities that may be available through 
Team(county) 
youth locality team – possibly including an electronic 
version on Parentmail. 
Local GP Surgeries 
Various 
[email address]  Cards available in waiting rooms 
 
 
 
 
 

Area Working – Participatory Pilot 
Informal Member Working Group 
Monday 23 May: 5.30 pm – 7.00 pm 
 
Members present:
 
Sian Reid (Leader) 
Ian Nimmo-Smith (North Area Committee: Chair) 
Tim Bick (Executive member for Community Services and Health) 
 
Officers present: 
Liz Bisset (Director of Community Services) – Chair 
Andrew Limb (Head of Corporate Strategy)  
Trevor Woollams (Strategy and Partnerships Manager) 
Graham Saint (Strategy Officer) 
  
Apologies: 
Simon Kightley (West/Central Area Committee: Chair) 
Lewis Herbert (East Area Committee: Chair) 
Amanda Taylor (South Area Committee: Chair) 
Jonathan James (Head of Customer Services) 
 
1.   
Matters arising form notes of 29th March 2011 meeting  
 
 
 
It was said that offices were applying the “principles” for devolving 
 
decisions, previously agreed by the Group, to decisions taken at 
 
scrutiny committees over the past year. Early indications were that: 
 
Local projects and schemes funded through developer contributions; 
 
some local development briefs; Safer City Grants, and; non-  statutory 
 
tree works offered some scope for delegation.  
 
 
The group asked officers to look at how agenda time was presently 
 
split across area committees, how an “ideal” meeting might run, and 
 
some of the consequences of increasing decision-making locally on the 
 
present structures.    
 
2. 

Review of North Area Committee 19th May 
 
 
The Community Forum had gone well, an improvement on the previous 
approach, with presenters offering shorter more concise introduction 
and more focused questions for table discussion. The policing priorities 
section had succeeded in identifying a short-list of actions, to be 
considered by the NAG, and the different partners of community safety 
(council, police and fire brigade) integrated well. There were still 
questions about the running order of the meeting and where the Open 
Forum section best fits – too early and it delays the start of the Open 
forum and too late and people run out of energy to contribute. The 
timed agenda had worked well. 
 

 
The use of the customer services desk in the foyer, for people to drop-
in and raise issues was a moderate success with 6 contacts. It was 
said this innovation would continue for the next meeting and hopefully 
gain some momentum as people became more aware of the 
opportunity it offered. 
 
3.  
North Area and Community Engagement 
 
 
The member workshop had helped shape a contact list and   post 
 
cards inviting people to say what they liked about the  area  and  what 
 
they felt could be improved was beginning to be distributed to it. The 
 
idea was that the contacts (consisting of resident representatives and 
 
other community activists)  could then encourage the people they came 
 
into contact with to fill them in and return them. A community event on 
 
18 June would allow people to help prioritise what had been  said  until 
 
that point. The consultation closes on 30 June. 
 
 
A parallel approach was being used to involve young people, 
 
largely based around the “Dec” bus. Opportunities for  members 
to 
 
meet local people (including young people) 
at 
 
events run officers 
 
(such as mingle munches and talk and   walk  sessions)  have  been 
 
circulated to members. 
 
4.   

Sharing Good Practice/ Preparations for next pilot meeting 
 
 
No practice was shared beyond the pilot. The holding of the next 
 
meeting of   North Area committee in Buchan Street Neighbourhood 
 
Community Centre was welcomed, but there needed to be a  concerted 
 
effort to raise awareness of the new location. The content of the 
 
meeting is likely to cover health improvement for adults and a 
 
discussion about findings from the consultation.   
 
 

Community Empowerment and Local Participation in Decision Making 
Informal Member Working Group Meeting 
Committee Room 1, 5.30 pm to 7 pm on Monday 27 June 2011 
 
Agenda 
 
1. Notes from the meeting on 23 May 2011 and matters arising 
Notes from this meeting are attached, for the information of members.  
 
Liz Bisset (SLT lead for the project) will give a brief introduction to the project for new members. 
 
2. North Area and Community Engagement. 
 
Graham Saint will give a brief update on progress with the consultation, including headline findings 
to date from the consultation survey (CB4 postcards) and the headline priorities from the drop-in 
community event held on 18 June at the Meadows Community Centre. A paper about the 
consultation is attached. 
 
Members are also asked to give a view on the launch of a Facebook page dedicated to North Area 
Committee.  
 
3. Increasing decision-making  
 
Trevor Woollams will give an update on progress with devolving further decisions to the pilot. A 
paper about this is attached.  
 
4. Outline of next Area Committee “Pilot” agenda  
 
Ian Nimmo-Smith (Chair of North Area Committee) will give an outline of possible Community 
Forum items, including feedback from community event about future priorities for the committee 
and health improvement, and options for structuring the meeting. 
 
5. Sharing learning from Area Committees  
 
Discussion about what knowledge could be transferred between committees. 
 

North Area Committee Participation Pilot 
Findings from Consultation and Community Engagement  
 
1. Summary of Findings 
 
     Table 1. The overall themes that received greater levels of support 
 
 
 
 
The priorities in the returns and conversations were:  
 
 
 
i. 
Improving the Streetscene, including: control of 
 
dogs; provision of additional bins, improving the 
appearance of recycling areas and communal bin 

 
areas for flats; reducing obstacles in the street 
 
and levelling some uneven pavements. 
 
ii. 
More things for young people to do, including 
 
more fixed play equipment for older children, 
 
better playground maintenance, and; additional 
 
recreation activities. 
 
iii. 
Feeling safer, increase the number of PCSO 
 
patrols where possible and improve the visibility 
 
of the City Council’s Ranger Service in the area 
 
iv. 
People getting along better, including better 
 
promotion of events and existing community 
development, leisure and sustainable city grants 

 
so that community groups can involve more 
 
people in their work.   
 
v. 
Better shops, including a reduction in litter 
around them and encouraging people to come 

 
forward to run shops/outlets, possibly supporting 
 
a café. 
 
2. Purpose 
 
2.1 
The purpose of the consultation and focus of the community 
 
engagement  activity being carried out on behalf of North Area 
 
Committee was to:  
 
i) 
Find out what local people felt was the best things about living in 
north area, and 
ii) 
What one thing would make living in the area better. 
 
3. Background 
 
3.1 
Consultation and community engagement started on the 20 May and 
 
closed on 30 June. On the 18 June the headline findings, at the time, 
 
were presented at a community event and the people attending 
 
indicated their priorities. After the close date the findings were 
 
presented at North Area Committee’s Community Forum. 
 

3.1 
The intention is that an action plan is prepared that will help guide the 
 
committee’s work in the future. This will allow the committee’s work to 
 
be directed by the needs of local people and will hopefully lead to more 
 
informed and interesting agenda in the future. 
 
4. Methodology  
 
4.1  
Postcards containing these questions and a covering letter from the 
 
Committee Chair were sent out to community groups and activists in 
 
north area to encourage their members and neighbours to complete 
 
and return them. There was also a separate postcard for young people 
 
used and collected on the Dec Bus. Just over 7,000 cards were 
 distributed. 
 
4.2  
Local council officers in north area, such as Rangers, Community 
 
Development Officers and Housing Officers, who have contact with 
 
local people and groups, promoted the return of the cards and 
 
attendance at the drop-in community event on 18 June. 
 
4.3  
At the drop-in event, between 10 am and 2 pm, in the Meadows 
 
Community Centre, just under 50 local people had the opportunity of 
 
looking at the issues pulled out of returned cards (grouped under 
 
themes) and to vote for their priorities (using a limited number of green 
 
dots). There had been a lot of activity in the local press about what 
 
people felt about living in north area and the event received some 
 publicity. 
 
4.4  
At events taking place in the area, such as the Arbury Carnival and 
 
Chesterton Festival, officers attending completed postcards with local 
 
people. At the close of the survey nearly 700 people had responded. 
 
4.5  
North Area Committee members were given a list of events and 
 
contacts where they can talk to people, they may not previously have 
 
had involvement with. This includes sessions run by the Dec Bus, Eat 
 
and Meet lunches, Street Walkabouts and Community Police Patrols.    
 
5. Learning 
 
5.1 
One of the learning points has been that people prefer to be informed 
 
about the cards on a face-to-face basis, so that that they can quickly 
 
understand the rationale, give an opinion and not spend too  much of 
 
their valuable time on the consultation. Groups meeting in community 
 
centres were also supported and their focus on issues produce well 
 
thought through responses. 
 
5.2 
The cards were channelled through community groups and locally 
 
based officers, rather than sending them out cold, to encourage people 
 
to respond. A number of groups got behind the consultation and gave it 
 
their support.  


6. Findings 
 
6.1 
The greater level of support for issues, given at the community event 
 
and in the community forum, is shown in bold, below. 
 
 
We like living in north area 
 
6.2 
People said they liked living in north area because: 
 
o  People are friendly 
o  There are wonderful green spaces 
o  It is quiet    
o  There is community togetherness 
o  There is a lot to do 
o  There is a feeling of safety 
o  It is near to the City Centre 
o  There is a good bus service 
o  There are great Community Centres and Churches 
 
 
 
 
The one thing we would like improved 
 
6.3 
The responses were grouped into themes. Chart 1 (below) shows the 
 
level of support for each of the themes. It can be seen that what has 
 
been called Streetscene issues had the highest level of support. This 
 
was followed by Feeling Safer and then Getting Around Easier and 
 
More Things for Young People to Do. 
 
 
Chart 1. Level of support for each of the themes 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

6.4  
Each of themes is made-up of a number of issues. The following shows 
 
a breakdown of the themes. 
 
A. Improvements in their Street-scene  
 
• 
Reduce the amount of litter on the streets 
• 
More dog bins  
• 
Better pavements, as some are uneven and cluttered  
• 
Reduce the amount of dog fouling on pavements and in green 
 spaces 
• 
Improve the appearance of recycling areas 
• 
More frequent rubbish collections 
• 
Prevent dumping around flats  
• 
Reduce parking on grass verges 
• 
Too many cars parking on bends 
• 
Better care for trees 
• 
Reduce the noise from the A14 
• 
Fewer cars 
 
 
B. More things for young people to do 
 
• 
Activities for young people in the evenings, indoors 
• 
More organised recreational activities in open spaces  
• 
Encourage clubs for 8 – 13 year olds 
• 
Provide tennis courts  
• 
Extend the opening hours of the community centres 
• 
Provide free Wi-Fi in the area 
• 
More activities on the river 
• 
Local swimming pool 
 
C. To feel safer 
 
• 
Increase the number of police and PCO foot patrols 
• 
More Rangers in the area 
• 
Greater attention given to disruptive families who can spoil it 
 
for the rest 
• 
Prevent drug dealing  
• 
Clamp down on drug taking 
• 
People abusing alcohol and being rowdy 
• 
Anti-social behaviour outside pubs 
• 
Young people hanging around in groups 
• 
Feeling safe at night 
• 
Reduce the number of burglaries 
• 
Too much late-night noise 
• 
Reduce racism in the area 
 
 
 
 

 
D. People to get along better 
 
• 
More opportunities for people to get together as a community 
 (carnivals, 
etc.) 
• 
Better promotion of the good things about the area 
• 
Work to reduce tensions where people live  close to each other 
• 
Greater investment in local services 
• 
Encourage more people to get involved in organising community 
 events 
• 
Improve the level of respect people have for each other 
• 
Local people encouraged to get involved in local decision-making 
 
E. To get around easier 
 
• 
Cheaper bus fares 
• 
Dedicated cycle lanes 
• 
Better on-street parking 
• 
Less congestion 
• 
Reduce conflict between cyclists and pedestrians on pavements 
• 
Buses should run on time 
• 
Reduce the speed of cars 
• 
More bus stops 
• 
More frequent buses into town 
• 
More speed restricted areas  
• 
Better lighting on cycle paths 
• 
Being able to use Park and Ride without driving to Milton 
 
 
F. Better shops  
 
• 
Encourage new tenants for shops with a wider range 
• 
Bigger retail outlets in area 
• 
A local bank 
• 
More charity shops 
• 
A good coffee shop 
 
G. Improved green open spaces 
 
• 
Cleaner playgrounds with regular maintenance  
• 
Better equipped playgrounds, with more equipment for young 
 children 
• 
More playgrounds 
• 
More fitness equipment in open spaces 
• 
Fences around playgrounds to keep dogs out 
• 
Reduce the number of overhanging trees 
• 
Help for older people to maintain their gardens 
 
 
H. To keep libraries in the area open and maintain opening hours 

 
I.  More local jobs with decent pay 
 
J. Better local housing 

 
• 
Improve the quality of social housing 
• 
Provide affordable rents 
• 
Reduce the amount of high-density housing 
• 
Bigger gardens 
• 
More affordable house prices 
 
K.  Health inequalities reduced 
 
• 
Easier access to GP surgeries 
• 
More “give up smoking” groups 
 
 
7.   Next Steps 
 
7.1 
Local people, who contributed or heard about the consultation, 
 
had the opportunity of attending a discussion of how the issues could 
 
be taken forward at North Area Committee’s Community Forum on 14 
 
July. A more detailed action plan showing how the emerging priorities 
 
will be responded to will be presented at the 22 September North Area 
 Committee 
meeting. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

DEVOLVING DECISION MAKING 
 
Discussion Paper for Informal Member Working Group  
Monday 27th June 2011 
 
1. Purpose
 
 
1.1  
The Working Party previously agreed a set of principles to help guide 
 
officers looking at decisions in services that could be devolved to area 
 
committees (Appendix 1). At the last meeting the Working Group asked 
 
that the present capacity of area committees, to incorporate additional 
 
decision-making, be rapidly appraised and the implications for the 
 
totality of our decision-making assessed. 
 
1.2  
The purpose of this paper is to give members of the Working Group the 
 
opportunity of discussing the emerging issues and give direction to 
 officers. 
 
 
2. 
Proposed Approach to Devolving Decisions 
 
2.1 
Officers have looked back at all the decisions taken through scrutiny 
over the last year and identified those that could be devolved. The 
MWG’s principles were then applied and the following types of 
decisions have been identified, for officers to look at in more detail. 
 
•  Local projects and schemes funded through developer  
contributions. 
•  Local Development Briefs (e.g. Mill Road). We will need to 
maintain a robust approval process. We will also need to take 
account of the Localism Bill’s inclusion of Local Neighbourhood 
Plans.  
•  Safer City Grants 
•  Non statutory tree works  
 
2.2 
Officers are also continuing to encourage the County Council to 
devolve decisions about selected Area Joint Committee functions (e.g. 
local traffic management and highway schemes, cycle schemes, bus 
shelters).  
 
3
.  
Capacity 
 
 
3.1 
The table on the following page shows, in broad terms, how agenda 
 
time was split across the 4 area committees during the March/April 
 
cycle. We did not record actual agenda times for previous meetings. 
 
 
 
 
 
1

 
Key:  Consultative items / open forum = blue, planning = green, formal 
decisions = red 
 
March / April 2011 cycle (actual times) 
 
6pm 7pm 8pm 9pm 10pm 11pm 
North  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
South   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
East  
 
 
 
 
 
West / Central 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3.2 
The table below shows the number of planning applications decided by 
each area committee over the past year (6 cycles). The highest number 
in one cycle was 10 in East Area (they were split over two meetings). 
 
Year 
2010 
2011 
 
Month 
M/J 
J/A 
S/O 
N/D 
J/F 
M/A 
Total 
North  






13 
South 7 





21 
East 5 


10 


26 
West/Cent 5 





18 
 
3.3 
The table below shows how the agenda of  ‘an ideal’ area committee 
meeting might be split. It assumes a separate planning meeting starting 
at 6pm. A separate meeting gives residents the certainty of a definitive 
start time but also provides flexibility should a high number of planning 
decisions be required at a single cycle. 
 
 
 
6pm 7pm 8pm 9pm 10pm 11pm 
Ideal  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Planning 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3.4  
The assumptions made in proposing this view of ‘an ideal’ meeting are: 
 
•  That it is probably unreasonable to expect residents to actively 
engage and concentrate for longer than 3 hours in the evenings. 
•  That it is unreasonable to expect residents (and members and 
officers) to stay at meetings later than 10pm. 
•  That making regulatory decisions late at night increases the risk of 
challenge. 
•  That separate planning meetings would enable members to make 
decisions about planning matters in a more formal, regulatory 
meeting, enabling the main area committees to be far less formal 
and participative. 
•   That area planning meetings could start earlier because residents 
are more likely to want to attend for a specific item of interest as a 
‘one off’. 
 
 
 
 
 

 
2

 

The Totality of the Council’s Decision Making Process 
 
4.1 
The issue of devolving decision making to area committees needs to 
 
be considered in the wider context of the totality of decision-making 
 
processes in the council, and the resources currently dedicated to 
 
servicing those processes.   
 
4.2  
An analysis of the number of meetings and the time taken in them or 
 
preparing for them (e.g. in member briefings) in 2005/06 showed there 
 
were 26 Council or Scrutiny Committee meetings and 72 briefing 
 
meetings, lasting over 200 hours; with around 1,900 member hours 
 
and over 1,750 officer hours spent in meetings and briefings.   
 
4.3  
This analysis did not include Civic Affairs, Planning, Licensing or HMB 
 
meetings or briefings, or area committees, so the total figure including 
 
those would be considerably more. 
 
4.4  
As we devolve decision making to area committees we need to ensure 
 
that the total member and officer time taken on decision making is 
 
reducing rather than increasing, bearing in mind pressure on 
 resources. 
 
  
4.5 
We have reviewed our decision making and scrutiny processes before. 
Capacity in terms of officer and member time could be re-focused on 
area working by reducing the number of central scrutiny committees. 
To do this we would need to significantly reduce the volume of 
decisions currently reported through central scrutiny. Any significant 
reduction would need a radical change to our model of scrutiny – for 
example: 
 
•  By not having automatic pre-scrutiny 
•  By having a focused annual scrutiny plan with focussed scrutiny 
projects 
•  By focusing scrutiny on performance management and policy review, 
rather than decision making 
 
4.6 
Any new model would need to take account of accountability and 
transparency issues. 
 
5. Officer 
Delegation 
 
5.1 
The Member Working Group has previously suggested that office 
 
delegations be reviewed alongside the work to devolve decisions to 
 
area committees to see where processes might be streamlined. This 
 
could be an opportunity to review officer delegations across the board 
 
to help free up resources. 
 
3

Appendix 1 
 
 
These principles were agreed by the Member Working Group on Area 
Working on 29th March 2011 and are being used by officers to develop 
recommendations on further devolution. 
 
 
 
PRINCIPLES FOR DEVOLVING DECISIONS TO AREA COMMITTEES
 
 
1. 
Decisions should only go to one committee.  
 
2. 
Decisions about policy will be taken by the relevant Executive Member 
and scrutinised centrally, to avoid the need for multiple reporting to 
each area committee.  
 
3. 
The default position for non-policy decisions is that they will   be 
delegated to area committees unless there is a good   reason not to do 
so (e.g. they relate to a city-wide decision or  
fall into a category of 
decision that is evidenced to be of little   interest to local people).  
 
4. 
Devolved decisions will be taken by the relevant area committee within 
the centrally agreed policy framework. 
 
5. 
The process of devolving decisions must not require any net additional 
resource and preferably require less net resource. 
 
6. 
If all members of an area committee are inclined to support a decision 
then a vote should be taken as soon as possible to leave more time for 
debate about less consensual issues. However, residents must be 
given the option to raise questions to ensure a proper democratic 
process is maintained. 
 
N:\Strategy & Partnerships\Corporate Projects\Participation Pilot\Devolving Decisions\SLT-Exec 24.5.11 DRAFT - 
devolving decisions.doc 
 
4

Community Empowerment and Local Participation in Decision Making 
Informal Member Working Group Meeting 
Committee Room 1, 5.30 pm to 6.30 pm on Thursday 28 July 2011 
 
Agenda 
 
1. Notes from the meeting on 27 June 2011 and matters arising 
Notes from this meeting are shown below, for the information of members.  
 
2. Review of North Area Committee meeting on 14 July 
A brief review of how the meeting went and the learning gained. Some of the learning points are 
shown below.   
 
3. Scoping the Interim Progress Report 
A discussion about the possible shape and content of the interim progress report to be provided to 
Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee on 10 October 2011. It is suggested that the report 
covers: 
 
• 
The framework originally set out by Strategy and Resources on 17 January 2011 (what do we 
  want to achieve?); 
• 
How North Area Committee decided to take the pilot forwards on 27 January 2011 (what will 
 we do?) 
• 
What has worked well in practice so far? 
• 
What have we learnt? 
• 
What could be transferred to other area committees?  
 
4. Update on progress with delegating decisions 
An outline of where we have got to with the decision areas previously identified and how the 
phased approach will be taken forward.  
 
5. Community Engagement  
Some of the headlines from the “CB4” survey are shown below. These will form part of an action 
plan for the committee, showing how we are responding to the main issues raised. A progress 
update with the development of a Facebook page for the area committee will also be given. 
 
6. Looking forward to the next North Area Committee   
A chance to discuss what might feature in the Community Forum and any new approaches at the 
next meeting on 12 September 2011. 
 
 
7. Sharing learning from area committees 
An opportunity to discuss good practice. The next area committee meetings will be on: 
18 August (East); 25 August (West/Central); 22 September (North), and: 26 September (South).  
 
8. Next meeting 
The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 23 August at 5.30 pm in Committee Room 1. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

1. Notes from meeting on 27 June 2011 
 
 
• 
The interim headline findings from the “CB4” survey and community 
 engagement were noted and it was agreed that an action plan should be 
 prepared to “close the loop”. It was noted that whilst the response rate had 
 been good, with over 600 people taking part, the findings should not be used 
 to represent all views in the area – it was only  
a snapshot of immediate 
 concerns – and further more in-depth work would be  
useful, especially 
 with young people. 
• 
People who attended the community event provided a useful contribution to 
 the prioritisation of the surveys findings. 
• 
It was agreed that a Facebook page should be set up for North Area 
 Committee, as a part of the pilot, on a trial basis. 
• 
It was agreed that officers should continue to look at the following decision 
 areas for delegation with a view to introducing them by 1 April 2012: 
 
o  Local projects and schemes funded through developer contributions 
covering formal and informal play areas in open spaces 
o  Local Development Briefs (e.g. Mill Road), whilst maintaining a 
robust approval process. We will also need to take account of the 
Localism Bill’s inclusion of Local Neighbourhood Plans.  
o  Safer City Grants 
o  Non statutory tree works such as tree planting. 
 
 
• 
It was agreed that a look at the findings from the “CB4” work and health 
 improvement in north area in the next Community Forum 
• 
It was said that the new area committee chairs and other members were 
 welcome to attend future North Area Committee meetings to find out more 
 about the new approach being taken. Members were encouraged to “try out” 
 different area committees to experience different ways of working.   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
2. Possible Learning Points 
North Area Committee meeting 14 July 2011 
 
About the meeting 
 
• 
Took place in a new venue, for the committee 
• 
24 local people (excluding members) and 11 officers attended the 
 Community 
Forum 
• 
7 people said they had not been before 
• 
Enquiries to customer services at the desk in the Foyer were limited 
• 
The meeting concluded at 11 pm 
 
Completed Feedback Forms (4) from meeting said: 
 
• 
People liked the venue 
• 
They still liked the new approach and felt they could have their say and 
 
join in discussions 
• 
There was confusion about what the Community Forum (7.30 pm to 9 pm) 
 
section of the meeting was about and it was thought that the promotion of 
 
its duration was slightly misleading – the overall meeting didn’t end at 9 
 pm! 
 
• 
Some people attending (“the regulars”) wanted to start with the Open Forum 
 
and to talk about the issues that concerned them and then go home 
• 
Some people said that they found the presence of laptops and other hand 
 
held devices on the tables discourteous. 
 
What did we learn from the meeting? 
 
• 
The tasks in the Community Forum were a bit complex and the   background 
 
material on the tables superfluous: we need to make things simpler in the 
 future 
• 
The paper for environmental improvements should have been more 
 
directive – we need to have greater clarity about decisions to be taken  rather 
 than 
options 
• 
For people new to the way we do things, there should be a bit more 
 
guidance about how the meeting is structured and who the members are 
• 
Make sure the tasks involve some facilitation from tables to keep discussions 
 
informed and focused 
• 
It is hard work getting people to evening meetings - we did get some new 
 
people with our publicity but not as many as hoped.  
• 
We need to be more responsive and flexible in running the meetings – to 
 
move on or rearrange when people don’t seem interested or have the   energy 
 for 
tasks 
• 
Sometimes the decision-making section should be the feature of the   meeting 
 
and we might need to take this into account in promoting  meetings with 
 different 
audiences 
 

5. Findings from CB4 Community Engagement 
 
People said they wanted: 
 
A. Improvements in their Street-scene  
• 
Reduce the amount of litter on the streets 
• 
More dog bins and dog control  
• 
Better pavements, as some are uneven  
• 
Improve the appearance of recycling areas and dumping near them 
 
B. More things for young people to do 
• 
More activities for young people in the evenings, indoors 
 
C. To feel safer 
• 
Increase the number of police and PCO foot patrols and Rangers in the 
 area 
• 
Greater attention given to disruptive families who can spoil it for the rest 
 
D. People to get along better 
• 
More opportunities for people to get together as a community 
• 
Better promotion of the good things about the area 
 
E. To get around easier 
• 
Cheaper bus fares 
• 
Reduce the speed of cars 
• 
Better on-street parking 
• 
More dedicated cycle lanes 
 
F. Better shops  
• 
Encourage new tenants into shops with a wider range 
• 
Bigger retail outlets in area 
• 
A local bank 
 
G. Improved green open spaces 
• 
Cleaner playgrounds with fencing and regular maintenance  
• 
Better equipped playgrounds, with more equipment for young children 
 
H. To keep libraries in the area open and maintain opening hours 
 
I.  More local jobs with decent pay 
 
J. Better local housing 
• 
Improve the quality of social housing 
• 
Provide affordable rents 
 
K.  Health inequalities reduced 
• 
Easier access to GP surgeries 
• 
More “give up smoking” groups 
 

Community Empowerment and Local Participation in Decision Making 
Informal Member Working Group Meeting 
Committee Room 1, 6 pm to 7 pm on Tuesday 11 October 2011 
 
 
AGENDA 
 
1. 
Interim Review of Pilot 
 
Cllr. Sian Reid will briefly introduce the report presented to S&R on  10 
 
October 2011, which highlighted the progress of the pilot and some of 
 
the issues involved in any extension of the project. Members are invited to 
 
discuss how area committees can take the pilot forward. The report to S&R 
 
is attached, for information.   
 
2. 
Review of North Area Committee meeting on 22 September 
 
Cllr. Ian Nimmo-Smith (Chair of North Area Committee) will talk about how 
 
the last area committee participation pilot meeting went and what lessons 
 
can be taken forward to the next meeting on 24 November 2011.  
 
3. 
Update on Devolving Decisions 
 
Andrew Limb will give an update on progress being made to delegate 
 
the identified decisions, which include: certain local projects and 
 
schemes funded through developer contributions; certain Local 
 
Development Briefs (e.g. Mill Road); Safer City Grants and categories 
 of 
non-statutory tree works.  
 
4. 
Launch of Facebook Page 
 
Jonathon James will give an outline of the Facebook page called North 
 
Cambridge Community Forum and how it is progressing. This page  will be 
 
displayed at the meeting.  
 
5. 
Sharing Good Practice   
 
Chairs of Area Committees are invited to present and discuss things that 
 
are going well with their area committees.  
 
 
The next Informal Member Working Group Meeting is scheduled for 29 November 
2011 at 5.30 pm in Committee 1. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Notes from Informal Member Working Group Meeting  
11 October 2011 
 
 
1. 
Interim Review of Pilot 
 
• 
It was said that S&R committee accepted the findings of the interim 
review. Area committee chairs could now take forward some of the 
approaches that  could be easily transferred. 
• 
To help inform the chairs of what they could do it was said that a guide 
would be presented at the next meeting showing the learning that had 
been gained from the pilot. 
• 
A senior officer would be available to assist chairs in bringing in any 
changes and to help administer the area committees. SLT would confirm 
the names of the officers. 
• 
It was agreed that at the centre of the pilot was the community forum. It 
was about members listening to local people rather talking at them. 
• 
It was accepted that the capacity of meetings was limited and that if the 
number of planning items where excessive, a separate planning meeting 
should be arranged to take items that could not be completed in the set 
time. 
• 
Each area committee should take a view on where in the meetings 
planning   applications were considered. It was agreed that taking 
decisions late at  night was not ideal for members or the public. 
• 
It was suggested that members should be asked their views about the 
pilot. 
• 
It was agreed that local residents should help set the content of 
meetings  so that what is presented is of interest to them. Chairs should 
not accept reports that have little wider interest. 
 
2. 
Review of North Area Committee meeting on 22 September 
 
 
• 
Some of the momentum of the meeting was lost when the large number 
 of people attending for a planning item left.  
• 
It was felt that the presentation of the policing priorities was sharper 
 than previously but that more emphasis was given to taking clarifying 
 question than table discussion.  
• 
It was thought that the Chair should ask in future what the forum wanted 
 as its policing priorities and then ask members to vote to accept them or 
 otherwise, to give clear accountability. Cllr. Tim Bick, as the Executive 
 Member whose portfolio covered community safety, would be asked to 
 agree a view about whether a standard approach should be applied to 
 all area committees. 
• 
It was agreed that a police representative should be invited to 
 attend the next meeting to discuss with members how this section of 
 the agenda was run in all area committees. It was acknowledged that 
 the police ran these meetings in a different way, in other districts, and 
 could offer insight into other approaches. 
• 
It was accepted that the officer reports in the decision-making section 
 could have been more directive and shorter. There were errors in the 

 grant papers. These should be submitted as drafts first to allow the lead 
 officer for the area committee to make changes. 
 
3. 
Update on Devolving Decisions 
 
 
• 
It was agreed that councillors would continue to take decisions during 
the decision-making sections of the meetings. 
• 
More details about progress with devolving decisions would be 
presented to the next meeting.  
• 
Care will need to be taken that more decision-making by area 
committees doesn’t lead to longer meetings. 
 
4. 
Launch of Facebook Page 
 
• 
The facebook page for North Area Committee had be set up. So far 26 
people have said they “like” it. 
• 
Linking the page to other used pages should help promote it. 
• 
The questionnaire part of the page should be made use of. 
• 
Following evaluation at the end of March 2012 a decision will be taken 
about whether to offer this to other area committees. 
• 
The link to the page should be promoted in council publications. 
 
 
 
The informal meeting ended at 7 pm. 


Agenda Item 10
 
 
Cambridge City Council 
Item 
 
 
To: 
The Leader 
Report by: 
Andrew Limb, Head of Corporate Strategy 
Relevant scrutiny 
Strategy and Resources 
10 October 
commit ee: 
2011 
Wards af ected: 
Al  Wards 
 
Interim Review of Area Working and the North Area Pilot 
 
Key Decision 
 
1. Executive summary   
 
1.1  The Council wants to extend the participation and involvement of 
residents in its decision-making and increase their influence over what 
happens local y. North Area Commit ee was selected as a pilot to try 
out new ways of working and to identify those that could be rol ed out 
to other Area Commit ees. 
 
1.2  We have learnt a lot from the pilot about how to run Area Commit ee 
meetings in a more participatory way and to engage the community in 
identifying local priorities. In paral el of icers have been working with a 
smal  Member Working Group to explore options to devolve more 
decisions away from the Guildhal  to area commit ees. This report 
makes recommendations about which decisions could be devolved. 
 
1.3  One of the chal enges going forward wil  be to ensure Area 
Commit ees have enough capacity and time on their agendas to 
increase public participation whilst also making more decisions local y. 
Further work wil  be needed to look at how we respond to this 
chal enge, including potential y redistributing resources from the 
central decision-making processes.   
 
2. Recommendations 
 
 
2.1  The Leader is recommended to: 
 
a)  Agree in principle to the delegation of the decisions set out in 
paragraph 3.11 to area commit ees by 1 April 2012. 
b)  Encourage the other area commit ees to take on board the 
successful elements of the pilot that can be easily transferred, 
as set out in paragraph 4.1. 
Report Page No: 1 
Page 143

c) 
Agree to investigate what resources might be needed and how 
they might be found (potential y by reprioritising work or doing it 
dif erently) to transfer some or al  of the elements of the pilot 
which have resource implications, set out at paragraphs 4.2 and 
4.3 (such as the community engagement activity), to other area 
commit ees. 
d)  Agree to investigate how to increase the capacity of area 
commit ee meetings to incorporate both participatory elements 
and further devolved decisions, including potential y transferring 
resources from the central decision-making process. 
 
3. Overview 
 
 
3.1  North Area Commit ee was selected as a pilot, at Strategy and 
Resources on 17 January 2011, to try out new approaches within 
existing resources that wil : 
•  Provide positive experiences for local people at meetings 
•  Provide  additional  support  for  the  Chair  to  manage  and  facilitate 
 meetings 
•  Agree clear actions at meetings and provide feedback 
•  Engage the local community outside of meetings 
•  Devolve more decision-making to area commit ees 
•  Work closer with partners to help set agendas 
 
3.2  North Area Commit ee, at its meeting on 27 January 2011, decided to: 
 
•  Start meetings earlier (at 6.30 pm) with formal planning items 
•  Time its agenda and aim to finish at 10 pm at the latest 
•  Utilise a Head of Service to help coordinate and facilitate meetings 
•  Try interactive processes so that residents find it easier to   
participate, including a Community Forum session where members 
sit with an audience around tables and discuss issues 
•  Set up a customer services point prior to meetings where residents 
can “drop-in” and discuss issues 
•  Carry out community engagement and hold a community event 
•  Set up a webpage and try out social networking 
•  Take on more decision-making in the area 
•  Promote meetings more actively 
 
3.3  The pilot formal y started at the North Area Commit ee meeting on 25 
March (2011) and has developed through the 19 May (2011) and 14 
July (2011) meetings. The pilot wil  run until April 2012. At the time of 
writing this report the meetings on 22 September (2011), 24 
November (2011), 26 January (2012) and 22 March (2012) are stil  to 
be held. This is an interim report set ing out progress and learning so 
far. 
Report Page No: 2 
Page 144

 
 
What has worked wel  in the pilot so far? 
 
3.4  The pilot has al owed new approaches to be tried out and learning 
about what works to take place. The fol owing elements of the pilot 
have worked wel : 
 
•  Scheduling the more formal planning items at the start of the 
agenda has made them feel like separate meetings, especial y 
when there is a break between the sessions, so there is less 
confusion about the type of engagement being of ered. It also 
means that those who are specifical y interested in planning 
mat ers do not need to at end the whole meeting. 
•  For the non-planning items, Members have moved out from behind 
the “top table” and joined local people in discussions, which has 
al owed more of a listening / engaging approach. 
•  The Chair has exercised facilitation skil s in control ing the sessions 
and summarising contributions. 
•  Local residents at ending the meetings have found the meetings 
more welcoming, have had a greater opportunity to contribute and 
found the content of the meetings interesting. 
•  Partners from the county council, police and health services have 
actively contributed to Community Forum sessions and found the 
views expressed by residents useful in assessing local need. 
•  The North Area Commit ee has established more community 
contacts through the pilot and they have been made aware of more 
Community Forums. 
•  The webpage for the Commit ee has been developed and al ows 
people to contribute, by using forms to ask questions, and fol ow 
actions from the meeting remotely. 
 
3.5  An extensive community engagement exercise was undertaken which 
involved a mix of: 
 
•  Face-to-face conversations 
•  Discussions with groups in community centres 
•  Stal s at Arbury Carnival and Chesterton Festival 
•  A ‘CB4’ postcard survey, which at racted over 600 responses. 
•  Use of ‘The Dec’ bus to involve and consult young people 
•  A community event at The Meadows Community Centre where 
at endees were asked to prioritise the issues arising from the CB4 
survey. 
   
Report Page No: 3 
Page 145

3.6  The findings from the consultation have been discussed in the North 
Area Commit ee’s Community Forum and clear local priorities for 
residents in the area, including improvements to their streets and open 
spaces, were identified. An action plan for the area commit ee 
showing how the City Council and other partners wil  respond to the 
priorities has been prepared.  This was then discussed at the area 
commit ee, to check that the actions were appropriate, and circulated 
to the area commit ee’s contact list (local groups and organisations 
who were involved in the consultation). It has also been promoted 
through the commit ee’s webpage and other media to show that the 
commit ee has listened and doing something about the issues raised. 
 
3.7  The priorities taken from the consultation wil  also inform the topics for 
future discussion in the ‘community forum’ discussions, and the type 
of decisions that the Council seeks to devolve to area commit ees. 
 
Community Participation - What have we learnt? 
 
3.8  Of icers have actively promoted and publicised the meetings but this 
has had a limited impact on the number of at endees.  It seems to take 
a lot of ef ort to at ract a limited number of additional people to 
evening meetings. 
 
3.9  However, wider community engagement outside of the meetings has 
al owed more people to exert influence, either through their ward 
council ors, resident association representatives or others who at end 
the meetings, or via other means such as those activities highlighted 
at 3.5.  This has helped reach a more diverse range of people than 
currently at end Area Commit ee meetings, including young people.   
 
3.10  This out-of-commit ee engagement seems likely to be the most fruitful 
route to pursue and develop further to increase public participation in 
the council’s (area commit ee) decision making.  The soon-to-be 
piloted North Area Facebook page wil  provide another channel for this 
type of participation.  However, the community engagement work in 
the North Area pilot has consumed a significant additional amount of 
of icer time, so there would be resource implications of extending this 
approach. 
 
3.11  The open forum and community forum need to be wel -managed. The 
role of the senior lead of icer for the Commit ee has proved very 
valuable, particularly in supporting the Chair in facilitating and 
preparing for the meeting. The Chair and Members also need to use a 
dif erent skil  set in these forums compared to the traditional approach, 
to ensure residents feel they have had a chance to contribute to the 
debate and be heard. 
Report Page No: 4 
Page 146

 
3.12  Despite al ocating times to the agenda items, two of the three pilot 
meetings so far have finished later than scheduled and very late in the 
evening (at 11 pm).  This is likely to have an impact on community 
engagement, as it is unreasonable to expect residents to at end and 
actively engage in long evening meetings. 
 
3.13  There is also the potential for the late finishing times to have an 
impact on the quality and robustness of decisions taken by the 
Commit ee on statutory items, as members and of icers may be less 
able to concentrate ful y late in the evening. 
 
3.14  There is therefore a need to consider starting and finishing meetings 
earlier, and a strong case for scheduling those regulatory items for the 
first part of area commit ee meetings in al  areas (as wel  as potential y 
increasing the frequency of area commit ee meetings in those areas 
that tend to have most planning applications). 
 
3.15  The length of current meetings also raises issues of how additional 
business (such as further devolved decisions) could be 
accommodated within the meetings. We wil  need to consider a range 
of options such as chairs enforcing agenda timing more strictly (and 
possibly guil otining speakers on individual items more rigorously), or 
even looking at the frequency of area commit ee meetings (or the 
days on which they are held). However, the resource implications of 
this would need to be investigated further.  Of icers plan to bring 
forward recommendations in a further report to this commit ee in 
March. 
 
Devolving Decisions 
 
3.16  An Informal Member Working Group (comprised of al  area commit ee 
chairs, executive council ors and spokespersons) has been giving 
guidance to of icers on how to approach delegating further decisions 
to Area Commit ees. A set of principles has been used to assess 
dif erent kinds of decisions and to identify a number that could be 
devolved. The principles are at ached at Appendix 1. Of icers are 
recommending that the fol owing decisions are devolved to area 
commit ees: 
 
•  Local projects and schemes funded through developer 
 contributions relating to: 
o   informal open spaces, 
o  provision for children and teenagers, 
o  community facilities, 
o  public realm and public art; 
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•  Neighbourhood Development Briefs (e.g. Mil  Road - we wil  need 
 to maintain a robust approval process. We wil  also need to take 
 account of the Localism Bil ’s proposals for Local Neighbourhood 
 Plans); 
•  Safer City Grants; and 
•  Non statutory tree planting 
 
3.17  Work is underway to explore how it would be possible to devolve 
these decisions from 1 April 2012, and any constraints or criteria that 
would need to be adopted to ensure consistent and constitutional y-
sound decision making, and to balance the strategic needs of the 
wider city with local area priorities. Relevant Heads of Service and 
Executive Council ors have been consulted and detailed reports on 
changes to process wil  be taken through relevant scrutiny commit ees 
in January. 
 
3.13  Discussions are on-going with the County Council to try to reach 
agreement about decisions that they wil  be prepared to devolve to 
area commit ees and / or other ways in which we can work together 
with the County Council and other partners to jointly address issues of 
high priority to local residents in our areas. 
 
4. 
What next? 
 
4.1  Some aspects of the pilot could be transferred to other area 
commit ees relatively easily and without requiring too much additional 
resource, such as: 
 
•  Tighter agenda planning and control so that meetings finish earlier 
and are focussed on issues of high importance to the local 
community 
•  The designation of a Head of Service as a lead of icer to assist the 
Chair, and fewer of icers at ending area commit ee meetings 
•  The use of a Community Forum session, involving round table 
discussions, provided there is time in the agenda and space in the 
venue. 
•  The Chair acting in a facilitating role and members actively listening 
more to residents as a part of round table discussions 
•  Starting meetings earlier with the consideration of planning 
applications to ensure robust, high quality decision-making on 
statutory items 
 
4.2  Some aspects of the pilot would require resources to support the new 
way of working, such as additional member and of icer time to: 
 
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•  Facilitate meaningful input from presenters in the Community 
Forum 
•  Provide the Customer Services “Help Desk” at the front of each 
Area Commit ee meeting. 
•  Carry out wider community engagement outside of the meetings, 
including: 
o  face to face conversations with local groups of people to 
find out about local priorities; 
o  organising a “CB4”-type survey and promoting responses 
at local community events; 
o  using the Dec Bus to reach out to young people; and 
o  organising a community consultation event. 
 
4.3  Other aspects of the pilot are stil  being developed and, if successful, 
would also require additional member and of icer time, including: 
 
 
•  Utilising social media, such as developing a Facebook page and 
maintaining engaging content 
•  Preparing an action plan for the commit ee to respond to issues 
raised in its community engagement work and working with lead 
of icers and partner organisations to deliver and report progress 
against this action plan. 
 
4.4  If the approaches set out in sections 4.2 and 4.3 are to be of ered to 
other area commit ees, we need to assess what resources can be 
reprioritised, doing what we are presently doing dif erently or what 
additional resource might be needed.  The ‘community infrastructure’ 
in the north area (in terms of community buildings, community 
development staf  etc.) is general y more developed than in the other 
three areas which means that ef ective community engagement may 
be more of a chal enge. 
 
4.5  If the other Area Commit ee meetings are to become more 
participative and consider more devolved decisions, this requires a 
wil ingness on the part of the Commit ees to do things dif erently and 
suf icient space within agenda. Other area commit ees currently 
consider a greater number of planning applications than the North 
Area Commit ee, which could make it dif icult to accommodate 
additional content. 
 
4.6  As outlined above, one option would be to hold more frequent 
meetings (e.g. moving to a six-weekly cycle) for the area(s) receiving 
the most planning applications. This would create more space for area 
commit ees to do more participatory work and take more decisions, 
but it would have additional resource implications. 
 
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4.7  Any new model wil  also need to be accountable and transparent. The 
Member Working Group has suggested that of icer delegations be 
reviewed alongside the work to devolve decisions to area commit ees 
to see where processes might be streamlined. 
 
4.8  We should take this opportunity to review of icer delegations across 
the board to help free up resources (e.g. by reducing the total number 
of items that need to go to scrutiny commit ees for approval).  This 
review of central decision making processes and structures could 
potential y take place during 2012-13. 
 
 
5. 
Equality Impact Assessment 
 
5.1  Of icers have carried out a Stage 1 Equality Impact Assessment 
(EqIA) on the pilot and it has been used to inform this report and the 
suggestions for moving forward with a more devolved and 
participatory approach. 
 
5.2  The key issues highlighted by the EqIA were: 
  •  The people that at end pilot meetings value the new approaches tried 
out in the meetings, saying they are more welcoming and enjoyable. 
This makes it easier for new people to join in. 
•  People should be encouraged to complete monitoring forms at 
meetings, as wel  as giving their feedback on what they thought about 
the meetings. 
•  At racting a wider range of people to pilot meetings is dif icult - few 
people want or are able to at end long evening meetings where they 
haven't got a specific interest in an agenda item. 
•  It is recognised that more work needs to be done in engaging people 
outside meetings, in set ings where they feel comfortable - the pilot 
has contacted inequalities groups as part of its priority set ing exercise 
and these groups wil  need to be kept informed about progress on an 
ongoing basis 
•  The pilot provided opportunities for members to meet inequalities 
groups. It is hoped that the same opportunities wil  be available if the 
pilot is extended to other area commit ees. 
•  The next Citizen's Survey should include questions (as the previous 
“place surveys” did) that ask people if they feel they have the 
opportunity of get ing involved in or influencing local decision-making 
 
 
 
 
 
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6. Implications 
 
 
6.1  Environmental and community safety. 
 
 
This proposal wil  increase local public participation and involvement 
around these issues.  Of icers anticipate a minimal climate change 
impact. 
 
6.2  Equal opportunities 
 
 
See Section 5 above. The proposals are flexible and inclusive and wil  
enable Members to use dif erent participatory events, depending upon 
the issues and the local people who are concerned about them. The 
EqIA wil  help identify ways of involving al  communities, including 
those who are more disadvantaged. 
 
6.3  Financial, procurement and staffing 
6.3.1 A smal  budget of £8,000 would be required to carry out similar 
community engagement in the other three areas, but the main 
resource needed would be staf  time. The Pilot has been run and 
managed within existing resources, re-prioritised through the 2011/12 
service planning process. The same process could not be ef ectively 
replicated across al  4 area commit ees without additional staf  or a 
significant re-al ocation of existing staf  time. 
 
6.3.2 Depending on how the project is taken forward, spending may need to 
be real ocated within the 2012/13 service planning and budget 
process. 
 
6.3.2 No additional resources in terms of basic service delivery or capital 
expenditure have been directed from other areas to the pilot area, 
other than the reprioritisation of staf  time in Corporate Strategy and 
Community Development, plus the time of the Lead Of icer for the 
North Area. 
 
6.4  Consultation and communication 
Extensive consultation through community engagement at a range of 
events and through postcard feedback has taken place on the North 
Area priorities.  The outcome of the priorities exercise, and the 
continuation of the pilot scheme wil  be communicated through Open 
Door, Cambridge Mat ers, on the website, the North Area Facebook 
page and the City Council’s twit er account.  If the changes proposed 
are made to other area commit ees, of icers would undertake similar 
communications through those media or through other community 
events in those areas. 
 
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7. Inspection of papers 
 
 
Appended to this report: 
 
Appendix 1. PRINCIPLES FOR DEVOLVING DECISIONS TO AREA 
COMMITTEES, agreed by the Member Working Group on 29th March 2011 
 
To inspect the background papers or if you have a query on the report 
please contact: 
Author’s Name: 
Andrew Limb 
Author’s Phone Number:  01223 457004 
Author’s Email: 
[email address] 
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Page 152

 
 
Appendix 1 
 
These principles were agreed by the Member Working Group on Area 
th 
Working on 29 March 2011 and are being used by of icers to develop 
recommendations on further devolution. 
 
PRINCIPLES FOR DEVOLVING DECISIONS TO AREA COMMITTEES 
1.  Decisions should only go to one commit ee. 
2.  Decisions about policy wil  be taken by the relevant Executive Member 
and  scrutinised  central y,  to  avoid  the  need  for  multiple  reporting  to 
each area commit ee. 
3.  The  default  position  for  non-policy  decisions  is  that  they  wil   be 
delegated to area commit ees unless there is a good reason not to do 
so  (e.g.  they  relate  to  a  city-wide  decision  or  fal   into  a  category  of 
decision that is evidenced to be of lit le interest to local people). 
4.  Devolved decisions wil  be taken by the relevant area commit ee 
within the central y agreed policy framework. 
5.  The process of devolving decisions must not require any net additional 
resource and preferably require less net resource. 
6.  If al  members of an area commit ee are inclined to support a decision 
then a vote should be taken as soon as possible to leave more time 
for debate about less consensual issues. However, residents must be 
given the option to raise questions to ensure a proper democratic 
process is maintained. 
 
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