How to engage with members, partners and the community.
This page looks at how to engage with members, partners and the community. Through effective stakeholder engagement we can achieve our flood and coastal erosion risk management outcomes more efficiently and effectively, reducing the risk of flooding to more people and property.
As a local authority you may want to consider:
- the range of inputs to this area from within your local authority and your management and operational structures
- your partnerships and where you may need to review or build on existing partnerships; for example those between counties and districts
- how you develop, policies, for example statutory plans and strategies, within a robust consultative environment;
- how you work with the community (either directly or through parish councils and local resilience forums) to improve resilience
- where you need to access or develop specialist skills to work effectively and in a sustained way with strategic partners
The Environment Agency’s Working with Others approach, the LGA framework for developing local flood risk management strategies and the Defra guidance on surface water management plans, provide further information on partnerships and stakeholder engagement.
Leadership and working in partnership
Leadership is. essential given there are several stakeholders with an interest in flood risk management. It’s important we work collaboratively across all Risk Management Authorities, and we communicate effectively with the communities we serve.
The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 created strategic leadership roles for the Environment Agency and Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs).
Many Lead Local Flood Authorities have set up strategic flood risk partnerships to enable them to work closely with their key stakeholders. Stakeholders that could be included in a partnership are:
- Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs)
- the Environment Agency
- other local authorities (districts and borough councils)
- internal drainage boards
- highways authorities
- town and parish councils
- local community groups and forums
- the emergency services
- regional flood and coastal committees
- water and sewerage companies
- other utilities and their operators
- local developers
- Natural England
- Local Enterprise Partnership
- relevant charities and NGOs
The nature of the partnerships will vary to some extent depending on the particular focus of work, for example in response and recovery from an incident or in planning for new development.
Elected Members participation
Local government and their community leadership role is central to flood risk management. Members have a key role in achieving the most effective outcomes in areas such as:
- the extent to which communities can be impacted by flooding
- the need to bring relevant service areas within a council together with focus and accountability
- the potential impacts on budgets, need to secure funding and the promotion of funding through regional flood and coastal committees.
- the need for strategic working with external partners
What can you do?
Stakeholder engagement can deliver the best outcomes when it’s considered right at the start of a project or initiative. By engaging others early before you make decisions, you can help them understand why decisions are made, manage their expectations about what they can influence as well as potentially building their ownership for the issue and any subsequent action they might need to take. If instead you don’t involve others early and take a ‘decide, announce, defend’ approach (where you make the decision alone and then communicate that decision to stakeholders), you risk opposition and having to invest significant resources in engaging others later in the process when you will have already lost their trust.
We all have a part to play in sharing best practice and learning. Where possible, you and your partners should share your experiences, for example, through the LGA's Knowledge Hub.
The Environment Agency’s approach to stakeholder engagement is called Working with Others. The guide for their staff is shared here for information and learning. (Environment Agency own the copyright and intellectual property rights).