Getting Real about Representation

A Notwestminster 2016 workshop idea from Steve Griggs and Neil Barnett

Notwestminster workshops ident

Politics is about winning the argument. Unfortunately, in local government, that argument accepts that councillors are disconnected from communities. But, should we not challenge this? This workshop does just that…

We have become increasingly frustrated with how councillors have been subject to a ‘pincer movement’.

From above have come the pressure of austerity and a loss of powers.  From below, councillors are in danger of being seen as irrelevant as new forms of engagement and representation seem to pass them by. In an era of ‘anti-politics’, councillors are too readily associated with the ‘old’ ways.

We want to take a more realistic approach.

We will explore what separates councillors from communities and how the model of the ‘ensuring council’ might help us to redesign the representative role.

What you can do next

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Steve GriggsSteve Griggs
Professor of Public Policy
De Montfort University

Steve is Professor of Public Policy at De Montfort University. His research examines issues of democratic governance, in relation to local service delivery under conditions of austerity and the politics of sustainability. He has recently worked in partnership with APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence), contributing to its development of the model of the ensuring council. He is currently part of an ESRC 8 country comparative project into collaborative governance under austerity.


Neil BarnettNeil Barnett
Senior Lecturer
Leeds Beckett University

Neil is a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at Leeds Beckett University, where he has taught a range of local government modules to undergraduates and postgraduates. He has also been course leader for several of the University’s management development programmes for local authorities. He has published and researched in the area of local government and Councillor roles.

Previously, Neil was a local government officer for 12 years, working in a range of policy areas.

Design Challenges for Local DemocracyLocal Democracy Design Challenges

All our 2016 workshops have been created by our participants in response to our Design Challenges for Local Democracy, which were crowdsourced from our Notwestminster network. This workshop is inspired by….

Real Representation: The job of the local councillor is to represent their constituents yet their wards can include as many as 25,000 people, all different, all special.  How can councillors better reach out to people in their community so that everyone can be properly represented?

Notwestminster 2016 workshops list

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