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One thousand Hammersmith & Fulham residents, from all walks of life, will be contacted by independent pollsters in ...
One thousand Hammersmith & Fulham residents, from all walks of life, will be contacted by independent pollsters in the new year. They will be offered an exclusive seat on the Hammersmith & Fulham Citizen's Panel. As a result they will get a chance to have a real say in how local services are run and how they could be improved.

The council will be commissioning independent market researchers to find the 1,000 people and to run the Citizens' Panel. They will be charged with making sure those chosen come from all parts of the borough, from all age groups and are closely representative of the borough's community.

Deputy for community consultation, Tim Stanley, says: 'If local government is to be more relevant to local people, they have to have more of a say in what's going on. At Hammersmith & Fulham Council we want to be at the forefront of the drive to modernise local democracy. We believe a major part of that is asking local people for their views and, more importantly, acting on them. After all, it is our residents who use these services and have first hand experience, they often have fresh and interesting ideas on how things could be done better.'

Hammersmith & Fulham Council's modernisation programme has already seen the abolition of the old committee system and its replacement with an mayor and `cabinet' of six deputies. The programme also includes new ways for the public to have their say.

1. Councillors

Now committees have been abolished, ward councillors have more time to spend on helping individual residents.

2. Committee of the Council

Public scrutiny of council plans now takes place before decisions are made.

3. Review Panels

Members of the public and community representatives are being co-opted to several of the review panels set up to look at various council policies and activities.

4. A more understandable system

The council's cabinet-style decision-making system is designed to make it easier for local people to identify who is making decisions and to hold them to account.

5. Citizens' Panel - NEW

One thousand local residents will have a direct say in improving services.

6. Borough Partnership Forum - NEW

Businesses, the police, the health authority, tenants' groups, community organisations and many more local groups can contribute their experience and ideas to improving the borough through this new forum.

7. Internet

The council's website, which the public can use in libraries and council offices, includes comments and complaints forms, service application forms and details of consultation exercises, as well as service information.

8. Annual public opinion survey

The results of a borough-wide public survey on council services are published each year. Next year's survey will take place in January.

9. More information

The council is using its newspaper, Streetlife, to give local people more information about recent decisions and forthcoming proposals, consultation programmes and how to get in touch with individual services.

Each year the council publishes a booklet to consult local people on its overall plans for the coming year. The next one is due in the Spring.

10. Elections

A review will take place shortly to look at ways of encouraging more people to vote and at making voting more convenient.

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