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County launches new system to give residents a voice in decision-making

A county council has launched an innovative system to give residents a say on major issues in their area and give people a more important role in the authority’s decision-making progress.

West Sussex CC has this week launched ‘Your Voice – The People’s Panel’, which is an online community of people who have volunteered to be regularly consulted about local matters that affect them.

The programme is open to anyone living in West Sussex, and once registered, members will be sent links to surveys, reports and outcomes, as well as public surveys, which give them a chance to voice their opinion on issues, and then see the results of how key decisions were affected by their action.

‘Your Voice – The People’s Panel’ was formerly known as the E-Panel, Cllr Louise Goldsmith, leader of the county council, asserted that the system is central to putting residents’ views at the centre of council decision-making.

“It is so important that we make sure our residents’ voice is at the centre of everything we do,” she said. “As a county council, 80% of our services are provided to our residents, so we need to consider their views with every decision we make.

“To help us do that an E-Panel was developed to help us engage with people across the county. We have 6,000 local residents signed up to this already and they are regularly helping us to make decisions through the views they give on a whole range of issues.”

The county council leader also stated that in order to get more people involved and to make sure those involved represented the whole of the diverse county, the authority had made the decision to update the system.

“Renamed ‘Your Voice: The People’s Panel’, we will be using both new and emerging digital channels to gather opinions, but also finding new ways to reach out to more people, in person and online,” said Cllr Goldsmith.

The county council’s innovative system is an example of decision-making being taken out of the town hall, as suggested by the Local Government Information Unit recently, who said that: “An essential component of local democracy is building strong connections between citizens and the institutions that represent them.”

To register for ‘Your Voice – The People’s Panel’, click here, and for more information email [email protected].

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