"Public engagement" represents a wide range of methods, from information-sharing to delegation, that enable differing degrees of public involvement in decision-making:
|Degree of involvement||Method||Actions||Outcome|
|Information sharing||Leaflet, topic sheet, exhibition, website||Balanced information is provided about the topic and context||People are informed and understand the issues|
|Information gathering||Questionnaire, Survey, interview, drop-in workshop||Public opinions, attitudes and preferences are collected to inform decision-making and measure performance||Information collected can be used to inform a range of decisions.|
|Consultation||Consultation documents, questionnaire, public meeting||The public state what they think about proposed policies or service plans||Drafts of particular policies or service plans can be adapted according to public opinion.|
|Participation||Deliberative workshop, on-line discussion group, on-line document editing, Citizen Panels and Focus Groups||People are actively involved from the beginning in developing policies or plans||People can shape the policies or plans and have ownership|
|Collaboration||Shared projects, co-production||People and organisations work as equal partners.||Decision-making will be shared. Some resources will be held in common so there will be some control over implementation|
|Delegation||Project run by a Community Group||Decision-making and resources are transferred to particular groups||Decision-making and implementation is carried out by the groups according to resources held|
Public engagement can use one, or be made up of a combination, of these methods. For example, a public engagement activity can consist of a stand alone action such as a survey, while another can be designed as a longer-term process using a combination of methods.
The method should be chosen according to the aims of the public engagement activity as well as how appropriate it is to who you want to involve. All methods are legitimate as long as the limitations and advantages of each are clearly understood.
Essex Councils have agreed Public Engagement Standards which describe how activities should be carried out.
The original authors of this site were Essex County Council, Rochford District Council and Uttlesford District Council, and is now supported by the Essex Community Engagement Network. You are free to share, copy or adapt this work but you must attribute it to Essex Engagement Toolkit.
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