THE new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council could hold monthly ‘listening committee’ meetings in a bid to improve public engagement.

‘Inventive’ proposals in its draft constitution outline include the new form of scrutiny meeting aimed at ‘engaging the community and taking account of the public voice’.

The new committee idea has been inspired by similar concepts introduced at crisis-hit councils in the wake of major ‘failings’ including the Grenfell Fire and Rotherham sexual abuse scandal.

A series of recommendations have been made by a five-councillor task and finish group set-up to consider how the new council will be governed.

Amongst them is proposals for three ‘overview and scrutiny’ committees – one each for adult social care and children’s services with a third aimed at improving public involvement.

The recommendations agreed by Bournemouth councillors Nicola Greene and Philip Broadhead, Christchurch councillor David Flagg and Poole councillors May Haines and Ian Potter say that the idea should lead to its scrutiny work being less ‘inward looking’.

They say: “Many councils find it very difficult to bring the public voice into overview and scrutiny work without significant resource in taking meetings into the community or heavily promoting scrutiny work.

“Establishing a dedicated place for this will provide more opportunity for public engagement and also bring the need for it into sharper focus.

“It can otherwise be easy for a council with limited public engagement or resource to do little more to encourage it than provide opportunity for public speaking on each agenda.”

The concept has been piloted by several councils, most of which have been involved in a major failing.

It was introduced by the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in response to the Grenfell Fire whilst it was also brought in in Rotherham in the wake of the sexual exploitation scandal.

Aside from the new scrutiny committee arrangements, the group have also proposed that the new council have only one planning committee rather than one for each area of the three areas.

The recommendations will be considered by members of the shadow authority’s overview and scrutiny committee on Monday (December 10) with the group hoping to have its final proposals for the new council’s constitution ready at the beginning of 2019.