- The current notice of meetings is very short, making it difficult for organisations and individuals to engage. Whilst the communications plan is welcomed, will this be reviewed to ensure it is effectively engaging the public?
- Given that many groups in the city have submitted evidence and have an interest in the success of the Commission, will their involvement be sought in the organising and publicising of any public debate?
Does the chair have leeway to ask for contributions from public observers of the meetings, should that be appropriate?
- Could the Commission clarify the “review process” that the City Council will undertake after one year. Will this involve current Commission members, or would it only involve Council officers? Groups involved in submitting evidence should also be involved in the review process, could this be considered?
- Could the Council explore a model that would allow the Fairness Commission to regularly operate beyond September, allowing the submission and revision of evidence, for example through transferring support for the Commission to a third party organisation?
- Would the Fairness Commission consider their report be a “live” document rather than a closed report, allowing for easier monitoring of progress and reflecting new evidence?
The group has been in dialogue regarding the commission with the officers responsible. Below are answers to currently relevant questions the group has asked:
1) Whether there was any particular guidelines for inviting people to become commissioners, or whether it was a shortlisting process, and if so, who was involved in the shortlisting
– A shortlist of commissioners was agreed by Prof Alan Walker (chair of the commission) and Cllr Julie Dore (Leader of the Council). All of the documents relating to the Fairness Commission, including the list of commissioners, call for evidence and terms of reference, will be placed on a dedicated section of the Council’s website.
2) How the priorities of the commission are going to be set
3) Whether members of the public will be invited to influence the priorities of the commission
– The commission will be free to choose its own priorities (within the broad parameters set out in the terms of reference). The Council does not intend to set the priorities the commission considers or otherwise constrain its work, as we want it to focus on the issues that it considers most pertinent in relation to improving fairness, tackling poverty and reducing inequalities in the city. We expect the commission to agree a draft list of priorities at its first meeting on 14 February, although this list of priorities may be revised once evidence is received from the public.
4) What the plans are for engagement of public and organisations (i.e. whether there will only be written evidence and select committee meetings, or a wider program such as in Islington)
– Public consultation and engagement is clearly of critical importance for the work of the commission. Any individual or organisation will be able to submit evidence to the commission, and a selection of these will also be asked to give oral evidence. All meetings (apart from the first one) will be open to the public (although there will be closed parts of meetings to allow commissioners to discuss what they have heard in private), and the commission will hold meetings in different parts of the city so that as many people as possible will have the opportunity to attend if they wish. We will advertise the Commission as widely as we are able to ensure that as many people as possible are aware of its work and able to have their say. We will particularly be aware of the need to make sure that we seek the views of under-represented and seldom heard groups in the city, and will make sure that we target activity to enable them to engage with the Commission.
5) Whether there will be scope for organisations and individuals external to the council to be involved in publicising the Fairness Commission and/or holding related activities
– We haven’t had any discussion with Prof Walker on your last question, but I’m sure that any help that any external group were able to give to help publicise the work of the Commission would be warmly received. I will ask him what scope there might be for groups undertaking related activity