THE people of Woking are being invited to help shape the future of their communities as the borough council pledges to introduce continuous consultation on its activities.

Invitations to join its new Woking Residents’ Panel have been sent to 10,000 randomly selected addresses, but all over-18s living in the borough are eligible to apply.

“The way the council communicates with its residents is changing,” said Woking Borough Council’s leader, Cllr Ayesha Azad “I made resident engagement a key pledge when I became leader because I want the council I lead to have a continuous conversation with the people it serves.

“To help do that, 10,000 letters went out to randomly selected residents inviting them to take part in the residents’ panel. So, if you’re one of the lucky ones then please ensure you take up the opportunity to get involved.

“It’s a great new way to have your say on how the council runs its services or improves the local area and tackles issues in your community. It’s about listening and hearing each other as part of a big conversation.”

The panel will consist of 1,000 residents across the borough. Its members will be contacted several times a year for their views on a variety of issues and projects and services that the council provides.

“Participating does not have to be time consuming, so I hope that even those with hectic lives will consider becoming a panellist,” added Cllr Azad. “Results will be fed directly back to decision makers within the council, so a small amount of input could lead to big changes in what we deliver, and how.”

Consultations will be through online questionnaires, postal surveys, focus groups or, in certain cases telephone surveys. Panellists do not need any particular prior knowledge, skills or expertise and will not be expected to demonstrate any specific abilities.

Special events for panellists, including meeting council representatives and focus groups, will be online via Zoom, at least while there are coronavirus restrictions.

The council will send panellists regular feedback, showing how the results have influenced decisions. Results of all surveys will also be made available online.

The only requirements are that all panellists must be aged 18 or over, a resident of Woking borough and enthusiastic about participating in local democracy.

“The panel isn’t just open to those who receive an invitation,” said Cllr Azad. “Anyone is welcome to apply, and I hope that plenty of people will take the opportunity to do so.”

Applicants will be asked to complete a profiling questionnaire, stating key demographics such as age, gender, ethnicity, disability and where they live. This will ensure that the panel is representative of local communities.

A satisfaction survey on a selection of key services provided by the council was included with the invitation letter.

For more information or to apply to join the panel, call 01483 755855 or email [email protected].