Access to Decision Makers: People want greater access to decision makers and yet to many the local decision making process seems remote and impersonal. How can we encourage real contact between those making the decisions and those affected by them?
What we did at our Local Democracy Maker Day (1)
A group of us focussed on finding some practical things that we can try out to create more contact between councillors and constituents. In our opening pitches, Cllr Julia Berry responded to this challenge by saying: “My way of approaching it is to encourage gatherings – getting people together to connect with each other and then communicate, because otherwise people in town halls just think they know best. So just get gathering.” We talked about ways of bringing people together, both online and offline.
Our group included councillors, digital practitioners, council officers and a Kirklees Youth Councillor. We shared a lot of experiences of this issue, including meeting older residents who have “retired from voting” and hearing from young people who don’t have a say in the decisions that affect them. It was enlightening, at times sad, but mostly funny and inspiring. We described three pilot projects and committed to trying these out. They are: Ward walkabouts using live video streaming, involving young people in the councillor induction process and creating more personal, engaging digital content.
Things we made:
- Summary and outcomes – our three pilots (GoogleDoc) from Diane Sims
- Our conversations about creating more contact (GoogleDoc) from Diane Sims
- Practical ideas for creating more contact (GoogleDoc) from Diane Sims
What we did at our Local Democracy Maker Day (2)
A second group of us focussed on how to make the decision making process more transparent by recording and sharing the way that councillors vote in council meetings to make decisions. This discussion was prompted by an idea from Lucy Knight in our opening pitches on the day. Lucy said how surprised she was to discover that her council doesn’t keep a record of how councillors vote at meetings – not even on paper. The group focussed on how to get good quality data on attendance, voting and motions in council meetings. They also thought about how to share that data via an API, so that anyone could use it and be able to build services to help people engage with local decision making.
Things we made:
- User journey for recording how councillors vote – graphic (PDF) from Rose Rees Jones
- Making local council decisions more transparent (GoogleDoc) from Rose Rees Jones
- Mockup of vote recording (Moqup) from Elizabeth Shassere
- Local Govcamp Makers Day: Our thinking – Transparency and engagement are about getting and giving data that matters to people – Rose’s blog