48 ideas for redesigning local democracy

At #notwestminster 2015 we asked you to come up with three new ideas for redesigning local democracy in each workshop. Here’s a quick overview of the ideas generated on the day. Follow the workshop links for more info…

Doing devolution without permission

  1. I will use social media to ask people to question the centralised state.
  2. I will ask the questions of others:
What do you think devolution is?
 What do you want it to be?
  3. I will carry on what we are all already doing together and take personal responsibility for being mindful of connecting that, by talking to people, to the wider devolution conversation.

Democratic Content – Local By Default, Engaging By Design

  1. A local media commitment
 – Interesting
– Sexy
– Informing
  2. Independently curated, engaging aggregated content in one place
  3. DCLG pilot

Digital democracy: A panacea for youth disengagement?

  1. Create links between councils and schools. Give children (14-16) a project that they devise & create. Understand links to democracy.
  2. Changing our behaviour. Embracing social media debate into policy making.
  3. Card contact conversation. Contextual information on policy change in your area.

Open Local Government: How can it be spread?

  1. Separate officers supporting executive & officers supporting scrutiny to enable greater accountability.
  2. Training & support for councillors & officers to support them in changing role for the 21st century.
  3. National conversation about what we expect of local gov & services in the future.

What is the ideal local?

  1. The councillors are the council & vice versa – should be the key ethos of every council.
  2. Local issues are big issues – if it is important for people it is important.
  3. Efficient is not always effective – especially when it comes to decision making. 
Embrace: messy, complicated, emotional, complex, difficult.

20 Ways to Connect Open Data and Local Democracy

  1. How to use data to decide what to do with £1million funding:
    Decide on engagement strategy for how you want people to be involved.
Think about how data can help:

    – Contextualised consultation -> What will the impact of decisions be?
    – Data driven art -> Recognising emotive decisions.
    – Participatory planning -> Visualising the impacts.
  2. How we use data to address a growing problem with pigeons feeding on an estate: 

    – Collate hard data from different agencies & private sector enforcers, to compare with existing soft data & understand scale of problem.

    – Find New artistic ways of presenting data to help offenders better understand the impact of their actions.

  3. Planning – in terms of opposition hard to help citizens understand and interpret the data. How? 

    – Free up council GIS staff.

    – Get consultation happening earlier to avoid retrospective errors.
    – Visualisation – create meaningful images.

Ballot for Bondi Beach

  1. Understand the decision making and political process.
  2. Communicate well in the community.
  3. Form a secret council and vote them out via the third chair approach.

Participatory Budgeting

  1. We will spread the word about PB with councils and other public bodies. Watch the video!
  2. Using PB in schools to promote interest and understanding.
  3. Link PB to devolution agenda.

The disconnect between democracy and services

  1. Better skills for councillors through development sessions.
  2. Greater powers of scrutiny for members over partners and officers.
  3. Joined up approach to the information around service delivery.

    [Ensure members represent the people services are delivered to.]

Digital Local Democracy – The 21st Century Councillor

  1. Deal with inequalities (digital) by giving away tablets! (and address digital skills)
  2. Find a way to filter online content and personalise digital public sector information.
  3. Do we need councillors in the 21st Century? [Debate]

Experimenting with participation, lean startup approach

  1. MVP / What to build – Bootstrap on next bus time SMS to get opinion on local policy change.
  2. Start small & cheap v. hyperlocal (i.e. one street) fail quick (then fail better).
  3. Integrate w/ existing channels – curated space that integrates with. Share into curated space from existing platforms.

A public values approach for using digital technologies to enhance local democracy

  1. Organisations have to use digital technologies to explain and open-up decision-making processes.
  2. Use digital technologies to connect individuals with community organisations.
  3. Find a council or part of a council to trial a public values approach to local service delivery.

The Council of 2045

  1. Digital can simplify and make managing services easier.
  2. Digital can help share passion and promote valued services.
  3. Dialogue online about a more collaborative approach.

User Stories for Local Democracy

  1. As a council officer, I need to allow the people I speak to to speak with their own voice & see through their eyes, so I can deliver good solutions to the actual problems people face.
  2. As a disengaged voter, I need to understand why politics should be of interest to me, so I can work out whether to vote and who to vote for.
  3. As a local resident, I need to have decision making reports in a format I can digest, not pages of text, so I can understand what decisions are being made, what the options are, and so I have an informed opinion about decisions – positive or negative.

Digital democracy and deliberation

  1. ‘Flip’ button on social media, giving alternative views.
  2. Use ePrime in discussions (no personal pronouns).
  3. You have a right to free speech. Not a right to offend.

Can civil society organisations offer local government any ideas on citizen engagement?

  1. Make it easier for groups & individuals to influence councils & be involved in decision-making.
  2. Ways to involve workers and help release their capacity to help improve decision-making.
  3. Toolkit for councillors (& others) in community leadership – covering ways of doing the other two ideas – to help rebuild trust.

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