Welsh councils are good at asking the public what they think and carry out a great deal of public engagement exercises. But, despite this, many exercises fall short of enabling residents to help shape their local services, according to the Auditor General for Wales.
His report, published today, found that all 22 councils in Wales undertake public engagement activity - mainly focusing on informing and consulting the public about local services. However, there are inconsistencies in in the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of engagement. Most councils have not yet fully embedded public engagement into their organisational culture and partnership activities. Monitoring and evaluation are weak and, they also rarely provide feedback to the public on what difference their engagement has made.
Public engagement plays an important role in the democratic process. It increases public confidence in local government activity; provides evidence on which to base decisions; helps give a voice to wide sections of society; and helps to ensure that resources are targeted more effectively