Customer story: London Borough of Havering, UK

Community Engagement Process
'screenshot of 'London Borough of Havering, UK
'screenshot of 'London Borough of Havering, UK

A busy London borough

The London Borough of Havering is a large suburban area on the eastern edge of Greater London. The local authority has to serve a sizeable and diverse populace, with the Borough being home to more than quarter of a million people.

Ongoing community engagement and consultation is a vital part of Havering's work, helping the council to understand residents' priorities and preferences.

The authority runs hundreds of public engagement activities – from feedback surveys to budget consultation – every year. In 2019, Havering adopted Citizen Space to run these activities online.

Regular check-ins with residents

Citizen Space is a platform for 21st century democracy, making it easy for everyone to participate in public engagement processes.

One form of feedback that Havering are increasingly using on Citizen Space is satisfaction surveys: a short set of questions on a defined delivery area, allowing service users to quickly report on their experiences and contentment (or otherwise).

Satisfaction surveys can be on very specific topics – such as people's experience of temporary accommodation – or very general ones – such as the council's range of capital investment projects.

This allows Havering to take regular 'temperature checks' on their work: to make sure that their sense of what services people will value is aligned with residents' actual experiences. And by providing an online response mechanism, people can take part quickly and easily, in just a few minutes and via their mobile.

Building a habit and expectation of citizen feedback

Running the satisfaction surveys within Citizen Space makes responding as easy as possible, lowering barriers to public participation. It means the surveys live alongside all other consultation engagement activities – in one place, with people able to search for topics that matter to them. And the clean design of the site makes it a simple and attractive way for people to have their say.

The upshot is that Havering are building a habit and an expectation of user feedback – where both council staff and residents are accustomed to a process of public input. As well as providing the council with invaluable quantitative and qualitative data on their service users' satisfaction levels, it also, crucially, builds trust – a virtuous cycle where people know they are being listened to, and are therefore happier and more likely to participate.

By seeking the views of local people, we can listen and learn about what matters most, get feedback on our savings proposals and set a budget strategy for the next three years that truly understands and supports the needs of our residents.

Councillor Damian White, Leader of Havering Council

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