Policy on Non-statutory Consultations and Community Engagement


The Policy on Non-statutory Consultations and Community engagement outlines the procedures to be followed by Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) when engaging externally in consultations on matters that concern the organisation and the community. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that MVDC plans and delivers non-statutory consultations and engagement activity accordingly and in a manner appropriate to the significance and impact of the proposals being considered. The information contained in this policy is a result of previous experience with consultations and community engagement delivered by MVDC, lessons learned, and feedback from stakeholders.

Policy Statement:

MVDC recognises the importance of consulting and engaging with stakeholders, residents, and relevant parties to foster transparency, inclusivity, and informed decision-making processes. This policy aims to ensure that consultations and community engagement are organised at the right time and are conducted in a fair, effective, and efficient manner.

The policy establishes guidelines and procedures for conducting council-led, non-statutory consultations and community engagement on matters where MVDC acts as the decision maker. In some cases, a formal statutory consultation process may follow.

It is important to note that MVDC is unable to consult on matters outside of its authority, and therefore alternative approaches may be used by those with the accountability for the decision being made.

Informal consultations vs formal consultations

This policy recognises the difference between required community engagement for statutory and informal (non-statutory) consultations.

Statutory consultations are those that concern a variety of regulatory matters such as planning, parking or land disposal and are governed by a separate set of rules.

For most MVDC consultations and community interactions, we take an informal approach. This helps us understand views and preferences of our residents and businesses, and that is the focus of this policy.

Objectives of the policy in relation to non-statutory consultations and community engagement:

  1. Presenting a structured approach to gathering input from community members and other key stakeholders to understand their perspectives and concerns.
  1. Maximising opportunities for community engagement with a consideration of reducing our carbon footprint through limiting print as well as working within our resources and budgets.
  1. Providing guidance for how non-statutory consultations and community engagement should be conducted, based on the potential level of impact on matters that are being consulted on.
  1. Building trust – establishing trust by demonstrating transparency and commitment to involving the community in decision-making.
  1. Defining roles, responsibilities and accountability of key stakeholders – to ensure that agreed processes are followed.

Community engagement and informal consultations categories

MVDC recognises that engagement and consultations may vary in nature, timing, and other factors, so it is important we retain the flexibility required to provide timely responses. To determine the appropriate method to deliver an informal consultation and/or plan residents’ engagement, we will focus on the following categories, which are based on a) the relative significance of the matters that are being consulted on, b) impact on the community/communities, c) the level of public/staff/member interest and d) previous experience:

    1. Limited impact on community, limited public/staff/ member interest
      Light touch limited to MVDC’s own communications channels such as its corporate website, social media, residents’ newsletter and Leaders’ statement.
    2. Some impact on community (locally), some public/staff/member interest
      As detailed above, with a consideration of local targeting depending on available budgets. This might include printed banners, posters, targeted online advertising, letters/flyer door-drops (subject to available resources). Public drop-in sessions might be considered for engagement. Communications and Engagement plans will be developed in line with available budgets and resources.
    3. Significant impact on community, high public/staff/member interest
      This type of community engagement includes a comprehensive communications and engagement plan that will be developed by the Communications Team in partnership with the relevant MVDC service manager. MVDC’s own (as well as paid for) channels will be considered to maximise reach. In addition, direct engagement with residents, key stakeholders, Members and staff will be organised, this can include for example public drop-in sessions, workshops and presentations and from these, comments and feedback will be collated.


Communications channels utilised during consultations and community engagement are primarily based on online delivery. This enables MVDC to have regard to its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint as well as budget constraints. However, consideration will always be given to engaging residents who are digitally excluded and, where possible, finding direct channels to communicate with them. Engagement will be enhanced by making the best use of relationships with local stakeholders such as Members, Parish Councils, Residents Associations, libraries, local groups and clubs. The current stakeholder list held by MVDC is manually maintained and updated and is reliant on updates provided by local communities and information published online.


We are committed to providing timely and accessible information to stakeholders, so they understand the purpose, scope, and potential impacts of the issues we are consulting and engaging on. It is the intention that all non-statutory consultations and community engagement of ‘some‘ or ‘significant’ impact in nature will be available in an online as well as printed survey format. An accessible landing page, following Web Content Accessibility Guidance (WCAG) 2.2 (for online feedback) and a cover copy (for printed versions) will be created to accompany the survey.

Accountability, Roles and Responsibilities

    1. The Cabinet Portfolio lead, advised by the relevant Executive Head of Service (EHoS) and Communications Manager, provides overall leadership regarding what should be consulted on and how consultations should be delivered.
    2. The Communications Team is responsible for formulating and implementing proposals, informed by input and feedback provided by the EHoS from the relevant business area, and leading Manager.
    3. For consultations with impact limited to specific wards, Ward Members are informed about the proposed consultations and community engagement and will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposals for community engagement within given time frame.
    4. For consultations with a wider impact, all Members will also be informed about the plans for proposed consultations and will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposals for community engagement within a given time frame.
    5. Member Equality Champions will also be informed and given an opportunity to input.
    6. The overarching responsibility of processing, analysing, collation and presentation of consultation results lies with the relevant team that requested the consultation and community engagement.
    7. Any complaints or concerns regarding the consultation process raised by the public will be handled by Customer Services Unit under the council’s complaints policy and procedure; concerns raised by Members will be managed by the relevant Executive Head of Service.
    8. MVDC will maintain records of consultations and community engagement exercises and consultations, including the methods employed and participant feedback.
    9. MVDC has an obligation as an authority to hold and process any personal data it collects in accordance with data protection legislation and Privacy and Cookies In terms of online, non-planning consultation, the length of time we hold personal data for as an organisation is two years, in accordance with MVDC’s privacy notice.
    10. Stakeholders’ feedback gathered during consultations and community engagement and consultations will be summarised in an anonymised way to inform decision making, and the next steps announced to the public through MVDC communications channels.


This accountability ensures consultation and community engagement procedures are thoughtfully designed and communicated through available MVDC communications channels. The consultation process is outlined in the below flow chart for illustrative purposes only.

Whilst all feedback received via informal engagement and consultations will be considered, it may not necessarily be reflected in future decisions taken by MVDC.

Document history

Version dateKey changes madeConsulteesApproved by
Version 1

19 March 2024


Responsible Officer: Communications Manager

Last updated: 06/02/24

Approval of changes: Major changes : Cabinet

Minor changes: SLT

Next update due: June 2025