Bishop’s Stortford Town Council wanted to host a public engagement event for their neighbourhood plan. These events had previously been a public exhibition in the town centre, but due to COVID this was not possible so the event was to be held using Zoom with joining details published in leaflets, the local newspaper, social media and emails to community groups.
CW Squared recommended appropriate Zoom settings and the use of a lobby and breakout rooms so that residents could join a public session, see relevant materials (videos and slides) and then join a 1-2-1 session with a local plan expert as required. We supported the Town Council in their dry run session, making recommendations for refinements to processes and ensured that the subject matter experts were comfortable using the technology.
The sessions, run by the Chairman of the Planning Committee and the Council’s CEO, were a success and citizens found the sessions useful to aid their understanding of local matters, and appreciated the opportunity to engage and feed back with their opinions.
Added benefits were gained from team member discussions during quieter periods where extra local information was gleaned due to a much freer conversational arena than in the formal agenda of team meetings.
Due to the success of the sessions, the Council is considering further engagement sessions via Zoom including an evening session to fit around residents’ schedules.
Contact CW Squared for a copy of our best practice guide for local authority public engagement events.