Government Relations - Richmond’s Heathrow campaign
Make your voice heard: Richmond’s Heathrow campaignClose
For many years Richmond Council has been part of a London-wide partnership (the 2M group) to campaign against any expansion of Heathrow Airport. Given a lack of reassurances from the Government that there would be no expansion of Heathrow Airport, in 2013 Richmond Council agreed that it was necessary to make clear to both the airport authorities (BAA) and the Government that the possibility of a third and fourth runway at Heathrow was unacceptable, and that Richmond residents would stand opposed to any plans to move forward with expansion.
To hold a successful local referendum from April 22 – May 16 with a turnout of at least 35,000 people. To do this we would create a campaign that would inform and engage residents and key stakeholders across Richmond upon Thames about the key issues (considering both sides of the argument) and encourage them to have their say.
The campaign consisted of two parts; publicity surrounding the ballot itself intended to maximise turnout, and materials ensuring that residents fully understood the issues facing them.
The ballot was delivered by an independent company in conjunction with Electoral Services to ensure that it was fair, in line with best practice on referendums and could not be subject to legal challenge. Ballot papers were issued to every registered voter in the borough in a sealed envelope with a second, freepost envelope inside for them to return their vote. Voters were also able to use their individual ballot number to vote online or scan the QR code on each ballot to vote securely via mobile phone. The campaign marketing consisted of:
- Leaflets and posters
- Theme campaign ‘postcards’
- Adverts in the local newspaper and on local radio
- Social media campaign
- Video documentary
- Launch event
- Large rally
- Hustings / Question Time event
- Outdoor advertising
- Local information events
- Ballot day polling stations
- Closing event
- Full media plan.
59,466 residents from Richmond upon Thames voted, a turnout of 43%. Over 80% of these voted no to any expansion of Heathrow airport. Combined with Hillingdon’s results, this provided over 100,000 ‘no to Heathrow’ ballots which were submitted to the Government’s Davies Commission on airport expansion. The full impact won't be known until the Davies Commission reaches a decision on how to expand air capacity in the South East.
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Leading Consultation and Engagement - Southwark Council: Burgess Park
Following on from its Revitalise Burgess Park project (completed 2012), Southwark Council are continuing their impressive rejuvenation of Burgess Park. To gauge public opinion on the council’s proposals and help shape plans for the future of the park, Westco was invited to manage an extensive engagement and consultation process in and around the park.Close
The scale and ambition of investment and proposals for the park merited a multistrand engagement programme. Westco’s experience in delivering insight and engagement together with its breadth of in-house skills ensured strong participation from residents and stakeholders.
We developed, executed and facilitated consultation plans and held events within and around the park itself. Our research methodologies incorporated both offline and online engagement approaches - from the organising and facilitation of focus groups, structured stakeholder meetings and public exhibitions to the design and implementation of surveys among residents and stakeholders.
Our in-house graphic design agency bolstered the engagement process through the production of high quality ‘look and feel’ of communications materials.
The extensive feedback drawn from these exercises has been carefully evaluated by our Insight team (involving quantitative and qualitative analysis) and reported back to Southwark Council.
Our work opened up insights into public and stakeholder attitudes, experiences and expectations, as well as highlighting the drivers and values that inform these. The council used these as a basis for useful, evidence-based recommendations. Over 2000 people responded to the consultation. The results fed into the investment Master Plan and helped prioritise funding planned for 2016 and 2017.
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Inspiring Behaviour Change - Sutton's anti-litter campaign
Sutton Council’s anti-littering campaign was developed to help change behaviour and raise awareness about of the amount of litter dropped and the avoidable cost of cleaning it up.Close
The campaign, which ran between December 2013 and April 2014, was created in response to a 2013 Ipsos MORI survey which revealed that 36% of Sutton residents felt clean streets were the most important aspect to ensure Sutton is a good place to live; with 18% having said it was an issue that most needs improving in the borough. When asked specifically about Environmental issues in their area, dog fouling (36%) and litter (26%) were cited as the biggest problems.
The campaign theme was to highlight the cost spent annually on clearing litter (£4m per year) and demonstrate what that money could be better spent on. Adverts were created to highlight five key areas of litter - cigarette butts, fast food waste, chewing gum, dog
fouling and fly-tipping.
The campaign launched with the distribution of the five different adverts in poster and electronic form to libraries, job centres, youth centres, leisure centres, council buildings, notice boards and doctor surgeries. A press advert was placed on the wrap around the Sutton Guardian promoting binning cigarette butts. The campaign featured on the homepage of Sutton Council’s website. A web page was launched specifically for the campaign and was highlighted on Twitter and Facebook.
Outdoor advertising was used on:
- 30 local bus sides
- Bus stops, telephone boxes, free standing unit and a large bill board
- Sutton Council waste trucks
- Press adverts
- Posters distributed to schools and children’s centres.
A high impact public event was organised to raise awareness and secure media coverage for our target audience of Sutton residents. The team created an 11 tonne pile of litter, representing 1 day’s worth of dropped litter in Sutton, in the middle of High Street.
- 60% of people say that they feel the campaign has made a difference to their area
- 70% of people say the campaign has made a difference to their area
- 758 residents were directly engaged in the campaign
- Enforcement officers spoke to 7,832 people
- 88% of people said they had a better understanding of how much it costs to clear litter
- The amount of litter dropped on Sutton’s streets fell by 8% during the campaign – a saving of £80,000
- Coverage was secured in the LGC, MJ and Sutton Guardian while the Leader of Sutton Council was interviewed on BBC London, ITV London, LBC and a local station.
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Design for people - Visit Richmond Website
The Visit Richmond Website needed to be revitalised in time for the Rugby world cup.Close
The website offers access to places to stay and things to see and do in and around Richmond, from Hampton Court and Richmond Park to the London Wetland Centre and has a global audience.
The task was to re skin the rather old and out dated website and work with contracted web developers to get the site up and running and looking great. The new design is more fresh and easier to use and gives a fresh flavour to some well-loved tourist destinations.
The redesign hit the deadline and was up and running in advance of the Rugby World cup.
Building Trust - Basildon Council & Dale Farm
Following a ten-year legal battle, Basildon Council’s plan to evict Irish travellers from an illegal settlement on the site known as Dale Farm came to a head in 2011, with potentially toxic consequences for its reputation.Close
Developed without planning permission by the settlers over a 10 year period the site consisted of 51 plots housing 86 families. Under pressure to act from local residents, the Council were determined to clear the site and deliver for their £18 million spend on tackling the issue.
Westco were briefed to manage the Council’s reputation throughout the process, through careful media handling and public affairs management.
The key messages of Equality and Legality carried through all communications. Westco placed media handlers in London and Basildon, managing internal and external relations.
The team worked with Basildon Council to target key journalists and build relations prior to the eviction date. Westco coordinated briefings of leading members and chief officers and trained key spokespeople; developing narrative, strategy and key messages aligned with the local MP, Police and Ambulance services.
The team led a delicate stakeholder relations campaign, involving Essex County Council, and developed a media handling plan for emergency Cabinet meetings.
When the eviction began, the team managed the news agenda by hosting regular press conferences during the operation and ensured the Leader and other spokespeople were available for comment at all times.
The site was successfully and smoothly evicted on the principle that criminal law applies equally to all, putting legality, equality and humanity first and foremost.
During the peak period of media interest, there were around 4,100 episodes of coverage averaging a positive rating of +1 on Westminster’s media scoring system. A later YouGov poll put support for Basildon Council at 66% while later media polls placed support at 87%, 89% and 92% respectively.
Editorial Design - Southwark's The Elephant magazine
Elephant and Castle’s housing and community areas are undergoing major redevelopment. It is a politically sensitive subject as there has been a negative response from some residents in the area.Close
We were asked to design a new magazine for the Elephant and Castle area, promoting the positive points and engaging residents, whilst also promoting the council’s plans for the regeneration of the area.
It was crucial to design something completely different from the usual council housing magazines. It had to be cool, vibrant and interesting and reflect the cultural and arty hub that is the Elephant and Castle area. At the same time it had to reflect the positive changes the council is implementing, without using ‘council speak’ or councillors.
The magazine has been well received with a number of people getting in touch to say how much they like it:
“It was really interesting to see and read the first issue of The Elephant Magazine. The design and layout are brilliant too!” (Southwark resident)
“I have just read issue one of The Elephant magazine on my way to work, and just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. I moved to Elephant in 2011 and have loved it since, and it's really nice to read something positive about the area that really reflects its friendly and
inclusive ethos.” (Southwark resident)
“Looks excellent! Congratulations. Personally I think it is the best publication that we have published since I joined the council in 2008!” (Southwark Council employee)
Tracking Residents’ Opinions - Research
Since the 1990s local authorities have been measuring what their residents think of them and their services through public opinion surveys.Close
Many of the questions are tried and trusted favourites for the sector and have been reflected in the BVPI/Place surveys, the LGA/LGcomms reputation campaigns and in performance monitoring frameworks across the country.
The challenge is that often these surveys are of interest at the time but are rarely truly acted upon. Our clients look to us to build on recognisable residents’ survey approaches through deeper analysis and insight and new questions that get to the heart of the matter.
We pioneered the use of regular telephone surveys as a quick and robust approach to measuring residents’ opinions. Often we can turn around results from the finalisation of a questionnaire within a few weeks. Many local authorities moved from surveying once every two to three years to at least every year if not more frequently.
We have worked with clients to ensure the regularity of their surveys is in-line with the genuine action they can take. Our approach led to the development of a regular national tracker survey at first run by us for LGcommunications, but then taken on by the LGA as part of their LGinform series of polling. We now use the LGinform recommended questions as a framework to build on.
By focusing on the strategic needs of the organisation, in particular the impact of communication channels and messages, we aim to ask residents’ only the questions that are needed to help drive change.
We also look to turn around the reporting and analysis of the survey quickly to keep momentum going. Our strategy is to work with clients to deliver reporting in the format required by decision-makers, but also to maintain an ongoing relationship through tracking surveys to help identify the impact of interventions over time.
Many local authorities in recent years have been fearful of asking the public what they think of them in a time of cuts. However, our clients have been able to face the challenge and manage the expectations of the public. There have been tough times for many but throughout they have felt to be on top of the situation through our work.
This has helped them to be bolder in their actions and able to tap into the willingness of residents’ to work with local authorities at this difficult time. Many of our clients have been surprised at the goodwill they have received from the public through our work, letting them hear their voices as well as those who noisily complain.
Design for place - Try It - Richmond Rugby World Cup Events
To coincide with the Rugby World Cup, and to make full use of the venues set up around the borough, Richmond Council decided to organise existing events into a themed festival.Close
The festival needed to encompass everything local from children’s sports events to arts and music and drama. The design team worked with the Westco team in Richmond to come up with a compelling name to bring all of this together under one banner.
‘Try it’ was the winner. Despite its obvious nod to the Rugby, that was only the beginning. It also has a life beyond and hopefully next year visitors and residents will be able to Try it again!
The look and feel is bright and exciting, reflecting the diversity of events on offer and brand guidelines were created to ensure consistent use of the identity by the huge number of organisations involved.
Media Gold - London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
London 2012 presented an international challenge for Westminster.Close
A year on from the London riots, the reputation of the city was vulnerable, requiring careful logistical planning and expert media handling.
At the heart of London, Westminster was to play a significant role in both the success of the Olympics and the legacy of the Games. Westminster businesses and residents required careful reassurance that the city would not come to a standstill with the influx of international athletes, dignitaries, media and tourists.
Protecting the council’s reputation among local residents was paramount, which meant the clean up operation, accessibility of games lanes, event signposting, security threats and overall games experience were also of key importance.
Westminster’s 24-hour manned press office was responsible for promoting London to the rest of the world which meant coordinating with multiple agencies and third parties such as Government, COBRA, the Met Police, TfL, LOCOG and neighbouring boroughs to ensure a smooth and streamlined media operation.
The council’s media team responded to and managed a vast array of media inquiries around the Olympic operation while simultaneously promoting Westminster as a world-class city, running as normal.
Any interview that wasn’t held within the Olympic park was set in Westminster meaning images of the borough were broadcast to multiple audiences across the globe.
The 2012 London Olympic Games have resonated around the world as one of the best organised events of all time.
Westminster and the events hosted here left a lasting impression, earning the city the same reputation as the Games enjoyed. In 2013 the city enjoyed a boost in tourism and business as a result. On a local level, Westminster residents said they felt informed and up to date, and despite many inconveniences the Olympics saw a peak in positive public perception on important issues such as clean streets.
The press team was able to raise the profile of councillors and the Mayor, who were put forward for interviews with international media.
Powering local growth - A city deal for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire
In 2011 the government invited 20 cities to compete to secure a City Deal.Close
Briefed to support Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire in the bid and negotiations, Westco advised a flexible approach to place leadership, spanning competing politics and bordering authorities.
To position the joint offer and its components as a compelling Powerhouse for Growth, through supporting ongoing negotiations with ministers and department officials, providing expert policy review and a targeted stakeholder engagement campaign to achieve a City Deal package that closely reflected Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s requirements and expectations. Our focused public affairs activity sought to raise awareness of the area’s natural and new energy resources and to support Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s world famous advanced manufacturing and applied materials (e.g. ceramics) sectors.
Westco helped to position Staffordshire as a leading council to do business with, gaining advocates within government through hosting a local business roundtable with a DCLG Minister and a leading fringe event on growth and place leadership at the Local Government Association Annual Conference. This was complemented by local MP briefings and a series of speaking opportunities for the Leader and Chief Executives of Staffordshire and Stoke-On-Trent to help raise awareness of the City Deal and partnership more broadly.
Westco also launched, designed and produced a report which demonstrated Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s place leadership best practice model and set out clearly to ministers the impact that achieving a City Deal in the area could have for local growth, jobs and prosperity.
The targeted stakeholder engagement campaign helped to raise the profile within government of the Powerhouse Central proposal over competing bids. Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire were granted government backing for their City Deal in March 2014. The deal is worth £113 million and will support up to 23,000 jobs for local people over the next decade.
Enterprising Campaigns - City Save
In the new national policy context, council finances and household funds continue to be squeezed.Close
Councils are expected to increase and maintain value for money services. Westminster’s City Save needed to offer residents access to relevant, free leisure events and activities whilst promoting local businesses.
Strategy & Implementation
Through reviewing long-term existing campaigns, Westminster was able to create a new, better offer for residents.
External communications functions were brought in-house to create an interactive loyalty card scheme that not only delivered for residents but would boost visits to libraries and leisure centres, securing the council’s central role within local communities.
The Westminster campaigns team held regular engagement sessions to provide market research and resident feedback on proposals in order to deliver quality offers.
The result was the creation of a bespoke commercial model which within Westminster saw an additional 20,000 people sign up to benefit from the scheme within its first 6 months in operation.
The scheme provides the council with an alternative engagement tool via the scheme’s Facebook page and Twitter account, and demonstrates the council’s Value for Money message.
As a direct result of City Save, the council has seen an uptake in those applying for free swimming vouchers within its existing facilities and local business involved in the scheme have noted an increase in referrals to their websites.
The council has been publicly endorsed by City Savers on Facebook and was able to roll out a second ‘Value for Money Friday’ initiative across the city off the back of the scheme’s success.
The council has saved over £54,000 in the first year of the scheme, and is projected to save £160,000 per year going forward, compared to the cost of the externally managed scheme.
Developing a Narrative - The London Mayoral elections
In the run up to the 2012 Mayoral election there had been relatively little debate about the role of central London, the unique characteristics and the opportunities to create a Capital which was safe, prosperous and connected.Close
Westminster City Council therefore recognised the opportunity to develop a clear range of asks around these themes of the Mayoral candidates and their teams.
Westminster City Council’s aim was to create both a thought-leading publication and event, which set out a range of realistic asks of the candidates and sought to ensure these were subject to wider debate.
To emphasise the cross-party nature of the approach, ten proposals were developed and agreed with Central London Forward; a group of seven local authorities set up specifically to represent the unique needs and challenges faced by central London local authorities. The proposals included greater flexibility in tube services and concessionary travel arrangements and ideas of how to more effectively set policing priorities which matched the needs of the local area.
Central London Forward hosted a major hustings event with the Deputy Mayoral candidates debating the key issues set out in the Central London Forward manifesto. The event was covered on London radio and other media outlets. Subsequent to this, a range of the proposals are now being rolled out across London, particularly extending the hours of the tube, more flexible arrangements to the concessionary travel system and the setting of policing priorities based upon local knowledge.
Engaging Audiences - Harrow People magazine
Harrow Council’s resident magazine; Harrow People, was relaunched in early 2011, in response to a dramatically different environment.Close
The financial challenges facing the council meant it was important to communicate vital budget information, ask for views, spark debate and feedback decisions, all through the pages of Harrow People.
As one of the council’s most powerful communications tools, the magazine is distributed to more than 100,000 households and businesses every two months reaching more residents than any other local media in the borough. 71% of readers say they use it as their main source of local information.
Westco’s aim was to create a magazine for residents by residents through increasing the satisfaction, advocacy and informed ratings of Harrow People readers by an average of 5%; increasing community-based and driven content and resident interaction with the magazine.
Westco held two focus groups with residents – the feedback from which formed the basis of the new design concept and content.
A 100% increase in the number of letters sent to the editor every issue; an increase in the number of people accessing council services. External advertising saw a consistent increase as the product became more attractive - in 2011 the magazine raised more than £90,000 in advertising revenue. With a high local readership (100,000) and a cost to the council of 2 pence per copy per month, Harrow People consistently demonstrates its market penetration and cost effectiveness.
Research and Intelligence - Harrow Children's Centre Consultation
There were 13 Children’s Centres located within the Harrow Council area focusing on delivering services such as childcare, early education, health support, family support, employment and training.Close
However, due to budget restraints, Harrow Children’s Centres needed to rethink the way they were distributing their funds.
Westco's strategy was to establish how Children’s Centres were used, their value for parents, and residents’ views on how the centres could continue to function efficiently.
A mix of research methodologies were used in this project. These consisted of a series of in-depth interviews and focus groups to understand the issues involved, along with surveys tailored to staff, providers and users (parents/carers) of the centres.
Much of the research was conducted within the centres, making it easy for parents to take part. Parents were therefore happy to be part of the process for developing the future of the centres.
This study illustrated to the council how vital their children’s centres are deemed to be by staff, providers and parents/carers and that the centres should be kept open. The research enabled the council to consult with parents, who are generally a hard to reach group for them to engage in research. The council has now opened three new centres, on top of the 13 they had in 2011.
This project was praised by OFSTED in the evidence it gave the council, and we carried out a follow-up project in 2013.
Transforming Services - Integrating policy, performance and communications
Strategy and Communications is the engine of Westminster City Council, driving forward the council’s priorities and delivering innovative solutions to enhance the reputation of the council and engage with audiences.Close
To do this we have created a fully integrated policy, performance and communications strategy that brings together communications with policy, evaluation, performance, customer engagement, digital, cabinet secretariat and change and project management.
In 2013, Change & Programme Management was moved into the Strategy and Communications team, to deliver increased efficiency and join up the work of two crucial teams within the organisation.
In early 2015, this model was strengthened further through the creation of an integrated Policy and Strategy team that supports Members and the Executive Management team in driving the strategic priorities of the organisation. This has created an interdisciplinary, highly collaborative, high-calibre team which develops, supports and implements a wide range of high priority policies and strategies. It drives the delivery of challenging policy areas covering housing, place-making, communities and people, infrastructure, spatial planning the environment, and licensing. It also helps develop new ideas at the centre of modern local government and public services - public service reform and devolution, neighbourhood governance and using our planning and other powers imaginatively to finance and deliver strategic priorities. The team is fast-paced and proactive and works directly with Members and senior officers.
The teams are now fully integrated, offering a broader range of services for the council that are strategically aligned and now bring together policy and strategy with evaluation, performance, campaigns, digital, cabinet secretariat and change and project management.
For Westco, this integration means we have improved our offer around building policy and strategy capability and project management, enabling us to offer vital support to organisations in delivering their strategic priorities during a period of continued cost reduction and political change.
Westminster and client audiences appreciate a fully integrated service and suite of products they can utilise to meet their objectives and drive forward their priorities.
Project Management - Dartington Social Research Unit - A better start
The Big Lottery Fund’s £165m 'A Better Start' programme offers a unique opportunity to improve children’s life chances in England by radically transforming pregnancy and early years services, so that they are based on the best science surrounding child development and evidence of what works.Close
The Social Research Unit (SRU) is the development and support contractor for the programme. Their role involves supporting 15 shortlisted sites across England to develop prevention strategies and then supporting the three-to-five selected sites to prepare for implementation. Westco was appointed to provide project management and communications support on this highly complex programme.
Westco’s project management strategy is centred on building strong relationships with our clients and project stakeholders. We support these relationships with structured, customised and user friendly project management procedures to enable on time, quality and cost effective delivery.
Our plan of work was designed to ensure that the 15 sites get the technical support they need from SRU and that the Big Lottery Fund receives the information needed for evidence-based strategic decision making.
Our first step, as always was to identify the right people from Westco’s talent pool in terms of personality, competencies and capabilities for the project and our client. Once in place, the Westco team has regularly monitored the progress of the work, emerging risks and insights from the individual sites. On-going and frequent engagement with sites and the Big Lottery Fund has been crucial. Effective communications has also been instrumental to the success of the programme.
The Westco team has used a variety of channels to circulate key information and resources including:
- Creating and managing a bespoke website, populating it with up-to-date, relevant information and resources
- Managing and running events
- Interviewing experts and publishing interview films on the website
- Producing and circulating a new fortnightly e-newsletter
- Planning and executing Twitter e-consultation sessions
- Managing external advisory group meetings.
Westco has played a crucial role in facilitating SRU and 15 areas in England to deliver technical content and strategy propositions which will help maximise the impact on the life chances of over 10,000 of England’s very youngest children.
Recruitment Campaign - Fostering
Westco designed a campaign to encourage residents to sign up to become foster parents in Harrow.Close
- Design of campaign to encourage residents to sign up to become foster parents
- Appeal to multiple audiences
- Work as a cohesive campaign while portraying different messages to each audience
- Creation of all campaign material including; posters, leaflets, business cards, pull up banners and outdoor advertising
- Adhering to strict brand guidelines for Harrow Council.
- Enquiries increased three fold in the first month of the campaign
- The Leader of fostering recognised how the profile of fostering has been raised specifically through the campaign and campaign plan
- Other boroughs are interested in a similar model.
Generating Income - Westminster Commercial Opportunities Board
As a council renowned for innovation and leadership, Westminster City Council has long been regarded as a forerunner of income-generation and commercialisation to increase revenue for the organisation.Close
As the number of pioneering initiatives such as Westco have increased in the last few years, a need was identified to promote a more consistent and effective approach to the management of income generation across the Council.
In 2012 we helped to set up the Westminster Commercial Opportunities Board, whose focus to date has been on reviewing current practice within service areas and putting forward a harmonised process for reviewing and setting fees and charges across the Council.
The major focus of the board going forward will be on encouraging entrepreneurialism within the Council, supporting service areas to bring forward, evaluate and implement commercial projects. This is an increasingly important aspect of the Council’s work and an area in which Westminster is an acknowledged leader, with our Westco trading arm; pioneering outdoor advertising contracts; commercially-focused property investment team and premium services made possible through our high performance across City Management functions.
There are three main ways in which the Board assists with commercial projects:
- Acting as a sounding board for initial concepts – the Board can give projects high profile backing to ensure that they happen or recommend ways in which ideas can be further developed.
- Considering barriers to progress – the Board will consider requests from colleagues to change processes, amend working practices or identify additional resources to help make a project happen, and give a steer on how these could be put into practice.
- Signing off business cases – without duplicating departments’ own processes, the Board can provide in principle signoff's for developed business cases to be put into action.
In the longer term the Board will explore options around encouraging entrepreneurial culture within the Council. Ideas could include integrating entrepreneurship and business case development into the Council’s learning and development offer, and adding an ‘entrepreneur of the year’ award to the range of Annual Awards presented to exceptional
colleagues and teams by the Chief Executive.
Commercial projects at Westminster City Council are now devised, developed and executed within a strategic framework, ensuring all activity is aligned and consistent. The Board ensures that all projects maximise the priorities of the council and income generation, as well as supporting its reputation.