Why are output reports helpful?
This article shows the importance of Transparency in a public consultation. And an output report is an excellent way to demonstrate this. Be careful though, an output report is not the same as an outcome report. In an output report you must clearly show who said what, whether they were an individual, organisation, statutory consultee etc. It keeps people involved and invested in the process, especially as analysis of a large consultation can take a while to reach the decision-making point. In an outcome report, you are explaining the results of the consultation but also the decision you have taken and what your next steps are going to be. Many organisations skip the outputs and head straight for the outcomes! But, in controversial consultations, the output report can be a key asset in keeping your consultees informed and involved.
CAMPAIGNERS say they are pleased after County Hall bosses republished figures showing how many people signed petitions opposed to library closures.
Original figures published by Essex County Council last month were disputed. The data said 58,245 signatures were handed in on 53 petitions.
But Wivenhoe Library was listed as having just 16 signatures on one petition and Brightlingsea Library was not listed at all.
The new data, set to go before councillors this week, said 59,855 signatures had come from 56 petitions. Wivenhoe library has 1,226 signatures across two petitions and Brightlingsea has 400 signatures. The council wants to close Brightlingsea and Wivenhoe libraries unless volunteers are willing it run them.
Rosalind Scott, who helped organise protests over the plans, said: “I’m pleased they have counted the online petitions but they are missing maybe 400 or 500 hard copy ones.
“Everybody has come out and said we want our libraries to be more used and we have already started to see them being used more. People just needed to be reminded.”
Ms Scott said the people of Wivenhoe were incredibly passionate about their library. She added: “It would have been a terrible misrepresentation if the petition wasn’t counted.”
Essex County Council wants to shut a third of its libraries, while it hopes volunteers will run others, in a bid to save £2 million. The plans show 19 libraries out of the 74 in Essex are earmarked to be run by community groups. In total 21,000 people responded to the Future of Libraries consultation.
The council said it had also had 50 expressions of interest in groups running libraries.
Campaigners in Frinton and Walton are protesting against plans to have the libraries staffed by volunteer groups. Delyth Miles, vice-chairwoman of the recently founded Friends of Walton Library committee, said her town “desperately” needs the facility. Speaking at a meeting of the town council, she said: “There is a high population of retired people in the town and people living on their own. “The county council’s way of counting the number of people coming through the doors is so narrow and only focused on people borrowing books. But we know that’s not what a library does these days, that is only one aspect of it. We cannot rely on volunteers – that’s grossly unfair. It is another public service that’s being cut in a town that requires its library.”
Despite the consultation on the plans ending earlier this year campaigners are continuing to take action.
A young people’s march will take place in Manningtree on April 27.
A ‘carnival for libraries’ will also march on County Hall on June 8.
A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “All petitions relating to Brightlingsea and Wivenhoe libraries were received before the consultation deadline and we will consider them as responses to the consultation, in line with our petitions policy.
“We are analysing all feedback received during the consultation and reports will be presented to cabinet in summer 2019.”
Article originally appeared Daily Gazette Essex Country Standard
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