Democratic Content – Local By Default, Engaging By Design

Ideas from the “Democratic Content – Local By Default, Engaging By Design” workshop at #notwestminster 2015, hosted by Carl Whistlecraft and James McLaughlin

Carl Whistlecraft at #notwestminster
Carl Whistlecraft at #notwestminster – photo NotWestminster (27 of 30) by Anthony Mckeown

Workshop challenge

Looking for good ideas and examples to take away for the impending elections in May? In this session we talked about what voters want to know and what stops people from finding things out. Voter turnout in the last local government elections was 36%. How can we redesign democratic and electoral content to stimulate interest, understanding and engagement? We shared our ideas.

The three ideas

Flag created by Juan Pablo Bravo from The Noun Project

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


Want to join us in working on one or more of these ideas?
You can Leave a Reply at the foot of this page.


Content placard


content workshop at #notwestminster
Ken Eastwood at #notwestminster – photo NotWestminster (7 of 51) by Anthony Mckeown





About the workshop hosts

Carl WhistlecraftCarl Whistlecraft
Head of Governance and Democratic Services, Kirklees Council

Carl is Head of Governance and Democratic Services at Kirklees Council, with 25 years’ experience of working closely with elected councillors in the fields of policy and governance. He has a passion for local democracy and is fascinated by the opportunities presented by supporting and promoting democracy in a digital age.

Carl is currently co-lead of the Rewiring Local Democracy (RLD) work stream as part of the LocalGov Digital Programme.

Rewiring Local Democracy

Carl’s blog

James McLaughlinJames McLaughlin
Electoral Services Manager
East Northamptonshire Council

James is currently Democratic and Electoral Services Manager at East Northamptonshire Council and has worked within the Democratic Services sector for twelve years. Having worked under various governance models at four English local authorities, he has a keen interest in the impact of decision-making models in levels of public engagement and participation in elections. Recognising the potential of new technology and media, he is keen to promote new ways of engaging in the democratic process at a local level.



3 thoughts on “Democratic Content – Local By Default, Engaging By Design

    stacycosham said:
    March 16, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I’m curious to find out how far you got in the discussion about having information in one place and who should have that responsibility? When speaking to friends and family nearly all of them suggest that the local council should provide information on all the candidates leading up to elections – similarly to how they provide Member information (who sits on what committee etc). How feasible is that?


    […] Carl Whistlecraft (Kirklees) in his workshop invited us to discuss how digital opportunities could facilitate public engagement around local elections – including on the day. We talked about party contacts, voter information, and opportunities to set the agenda. More about Carl and James’s workshop […]


    ahumblefunctionary said:
    March 25, 2015 at 10:01 am

    One of the big ideas that came out of the workshop for me was the identification of a genuine need to provide a platform for candidates information ahead of elections. There is still some nervousness about councils providing that platform given the rules on publicity during purdah, but I think there was recognition that councils don’t have to do it all. In a thriving local democracy, there should be interest from parties/candidates, media and citizens in providing this information. There was a suggestion of a site like “” which provides details on candidates in your area (ward/division/constituency), which could potentially resolve some of the issues councils face in providing electors with information on candidates. I thought that was an excellent idea. I have discussed this with candidates for the forthcoming elections and they have indicated that they would keen on it too. Indeed, everyone benefits from this, so it seems like a “no-brainer”!


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