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Agenda item

Communications Strategy 2020-24 - Action Plan Annual Review

To consider the progress made against the actions within the Communications Strategy during 2021/22 and to endorse the action plan for 2022/23. 


105.1        The report of the Corporate Services Manager, circulated at Pages No. 61-80, asked Members to consider the progress made against the actions within the Communications Strategy during 2021/22 and to endorse the action plan for 2022/23.

105.2        The Corporate Services Manager advised that 2021/22 had been a busy year for the Communications team which had given a high level of support to the pandemic response and recovery and provided regular communications in relation to adverse weather emergencies as well as continuing to undertake the regular proactive work including press releases, internal communications, media enquiries, newsletters and social media.  The team had also managed to deliver the majority of the Communications Strategy Action Plan, as set out at Appendix 2 to the report.  Key highlights included effective campaigns to deliver messages around the pandemic including videos, animations and infographics; the recruitment of a Garden Communities Communications Officer; creation of a range of videos for the Council’s recruitment microsite to help promote the Council and the borough as an attractive place to work; and delivery of an internal communications survey which had shown that staff were very satisfied with the channels available to them.  Five actions had not been achieved, as set out at Page No. 63, Paragraph 2.3 of the report, and had been included in the 2022/23 action plan.

105.3        A Member asked whether there had been any discussion about the frequency of communications in relation to the Garden Town.  The Corporate Services Manager advised that the Garden Town Communities Communications Officer worked 2.5 days per week and her role had initially involved finding out what had already taken place, how much people understood and the current position in terms of the public perception in order to put together a communication plan for the Garden Town.  Members were informed that the Local Government Association (LGA) had offered some resource to assist with communication and marketing around the Garden Town and draft feedback from that had now been received.  This had demonstrated that the work that had been done to date had been worthwhile and outlined the next steps to be taken – it was hoped to use more of the LGA’s time to support this.  Assurance was provided that there would be regular Member communication and a presence on social media going forward in order to drive the story of the Garden Town.  A Member welcomed this as she did not feel that communications on this topic had been particularly good to date and she was concerned that the Parish Council had seemed better informed than she had been at times.  She felt it would be helpful if Officers could respond to emails from Members to let them know when to expect a response – it would be better to receive a response which said they were busy and would deal with it as soon as they could than to receive nothing at all.  In addition, she asked if it would be possible to reinstate the place meetings which had previously been run via the Community Development team as they had been a great opportunity for Members to receive updates and ask questions on what was happening in that part of the borough, in her case the east area.  The Corporate Services Manager explained that emails were subject to the Customer Care Standards as opposed to corporate communications and, in accordance with the standards, Members could expect a response within five working days.  She accepted that it may be necessary to do some refresher training with staff to ensure this was being adhered to.  With regard to the comment about the place meetings, she undertook to feed this back to the Economic and Community Development Manager following the meeting.

105.4        A Member indicated that the Borough News was still not being received by residents in his area and he asked if it could be added to the website rather than wasting money on delivery costs.  In response, the Corporate Services Manager confirmed she was aware of issues with delivery and advised that the Council had not paid for the last distribution pending an investigation.  Alternative options for distribution of the Borough News were being considered but this was not straightforward and it was important to recognise there would never be 100% coverage; notwithstanding this, it was not acceptable for whole areas to be missed.  She confirmed that an online edition of the Borough News was available on the Council’s website although it was interesting to note that authorities which had stopped producing magazines had gone back to doing this as the impact was significant in terms of getting information out to people who may not look for it themselves – this was clear from feedback received from the services which were promoted in the Borough News.  She understood the need for the magazine to reach as many properties as possible and provided assurance that it was being worked on.  A Member drew attention to Page No. 71 of the report which referenced the snapshot survey that had revealed the Borough News was still one of the main ways residents found out about Council-related news and he asked when that had been carried out and who had been surveyed.  The Corporate Services Manager advised that the survey had been undertaken a couple of years ago using the Citizens’ Panel who would have been asked a series of questions.  The Member asked how many people comprised the Panel and was informed it was made up of approximately 260 people across all age ranges.

105.5        It was

RESOLVED           That the progress made against the actions within the Communications Strategy during 2021/22 be NOTED and the action plan for 2022/23 be ENDORSED.

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