Customer story: Torfaen County Borough Council, UK

Climate Conversations
'screenshot of 'Torfaen County Borough Council, UK
'screenshot of 'Torfaen County Borough Council, UK

Structured conversations

Torfaen County Borough Council is a county in south Wales, characterised by lush greenery, rivers and picturesque towns. They serve about 90,000 residents.

They use their Citizen Space site to run consultations and engagement, but they recognise that not all types of engagement are suited to the consultation format, which tends to be ‘top-down’ - that is, the organisation controls the flow of information.

Dialogue is a platform that provides a much more open format. Built for facilitation constructive conversations, it asks for thoughts and ideas on a topic rather than asking set questions. Respondents can interact with each other by viewing, rating and commenting on others’ ideas. It’s ideal for early stages of policy-making when a draft hasn’t yet been written, or when an organisation wants to break out of council fishbowl-thinking.

Useful features

Dialogue is a moderated platform, with two options: pre- and post-moderation. site admins were able to filter out nonsense or duplicate ideas as required, as well as monitoring comments to keep the conversation respectful and on-topic. Some Dialogue users choose to submit ideas or respond to user ideas and comments.

It’s also easily configurable, which was ideal for Torfaen as it meant their challenges could be presented in two languages - English and Welsh. Both languages can be displayed in discrete columns on the same page, so there is no need to create a separate challenge for each language.

Keeping Torfaen green

Torfaen is an attractive area and it’s clear that both council and residents want to preserve the area’s natural beauty. Torfaen council have run two challenges to that effect: a Torfaen Climate Change Challenge and a Torfaen Litter Challenge.

Torfaen is one of many councils in the UK to have declared a climate emergency, and they wanted to host an open conversation about climate challenges with residents before running any more formal consultation or engagements.

Each challenge had a good response, with users clearly impassioned about the issues. From suggestions like installing solar panels on all schools to making businesses more accountable for litter and waste, ideas and comments were thoughtful and considered, which gave Torfaen plenty of material to work with.

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