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Deliberative Online Community Dialogue About Christchurch’s Coastline

Jessica Topham

Jessica Topham

Jessica is Bang the Table's representative in the UK. She has a background in communications management and community engagement.

In 2016, Christchurch Borough Council was awarded £50,000 from the UK Government’s ‘Coastal Community Fund’, a UK-wide program designed to support the economic development of coastal communities by promoting sustainable economic growth and jobs. The Council is looking to use the funds for improving the open space of Highcliffe Beach near Christchurch in Dorset.

Gary Foyle, Community and Recreation Team Leader, feels that engaging the local community is a great way to educate and get feedback.

I have found using EngagementHQ to be simple and intuitive whilst giving me the tools to create the engagement platform that I had always envisioned for these projects. The response from our community so far has been fantastic, and is being viewed by our elected members as a very positive step towards making key decisions more transparent with the knowledge that our residents and visitors have had their say in the process, and that our ideas and proposals are well supported. The EHQ team have been really supportive in setting the site up and promoting it to people we might not be able to reach, and I would definitely recommend them to any other local authority looking to engage with their community in this way.”

Via their Christchurch Your Say Site, the Council is adopting a deliberative dialogue approach, providing early proposal information on possible artistic installations, pathway improvements and beach boardwalk. During this first stage of dialogue, residents are invited to take part in quick polls, submit stories about their experiences with the beach, and map out ideas for how the money could be spent on pathways, steps and benches. By using online engagement tools the Council is able to start a dialogue with the community, enable them to consider others’ ideas and consider all the options before committing an opinion.

Since launching just 20 days ago at the time of writing, 110 people have registered, 54 pins have been dropped on the Places tool and 153 votes have been cast via the Quick Poll tools.

Depending upon whether the proposals are supported in principle, the next stage will create more in-depth consultation, weighing in on the findings of these initial online conversations.

Learn more about Bang the Table and the EngagementHQ platform at www.bangthetable.com/engagementhq/

23 March 2017
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