Customer story: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, UK

Citizens' Panel Process
'screenshot of 'Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, UK
'screenshot of 'Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, UK

Contrasts and challenges

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) is one of the smallest London boroughs, and one of the most densely populated. Its average income is the highest in London, and it is notable for its embassies, museums, multi-million pound properties and culture of all kinds. Yet that is part of a complex story, which includes pockets of deprivation in parts of the north, above-average child poverty, and high numbers of people in temporary accommodation.

With so many residents and a rich diversity of neighbourhoods, the council has its work cut out to ensure all voices are heard when making decisions that affect the area. To make it easier to listen more and give residents a better say in matters local, the council has set up a Citizens’ Panel. They manage the panel, alongside their other RBKC consultations, on Citizen Space.

Your community, your voice

A Citizens' Panel is a large, demographically representative, consultative body of local residents who are regularly asked to share their views, in order to assess public preferences and opinions. Panel members are asked to respond individually rather than discuss in a forum; they may never meet other panellists. Such a panel enables a council to hear local opinions outside of formal consultations, and helps to instil trust among local residents that their views will be heard.

By hosting the Citizens’ Panel on Citizen Space, the council achieved two important aims: they have made its activities transparent and easy to find, and they made it straightforward to administer it by keeping it alongside other kinds of consultation activity.

But while anyone can see the section introducing the Citizens’ Panel, council communications with panel members cannot be viewed except by members. The council have set it up to ask for the email address the panellist used to sign up to the panel. If the email isn’t recognised the respondent can’t take the survey. Such privacy settings are straightfor-ward to add and easy to administer.

More power to you

A Citizens’ Panel is a great way to gather opinions to reflect the views of different communities, and ensure that seldom heard groups are represented. By listening to a variety of local views, the council can identify resident priorities for improving life in RBKC, and more reliably determine the appropriateness of developments within the borough.

Citizen Space is the natural home for this and other kinds of participatory democratic activity. The Citizens’ Panel section can be simply an additional tab alongside the other main sections on the hub home page. This makes it easy to find, and has the further benefit that anyone visiting the hub will come across it.

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