How can we make local democracy feel more relevant?

A Notwestminster 2016 workshop idea from Ed Hammond

Notwestminster workshops ident

The way that “formal” decision-making works in local government seems almost designed to discourage people from getting involved. How can we rethink it to be more open, reflective, and participatory?

As a local government person, I understand the complex legal issues that go along with decision-making, and the strong need that decision-makers feel to have a “safe space” to consider, digest and analyse evidence before reaching a decision.

As a citizen, I think that this makes no sense, because the more people that can be involved in a decision – the more people who can deliberate, argue, consider and refine their views – the better decisions can be.

As a realist, I know that we’re never going to end up in a fully participatory process, where elected representatives cede authority to the general population – and technical or digital solutions will only take us so far, too.

How far *can* we go down the round of participation, co-production etc without scaring the horses?

What you can do next

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Ed HammondEd Hammond


Centre for Public Scrutiny

Ed leads on the Centre for Public Scrutiny’s work around local accountability. His work has a particular focus on corporate governance within local authorities, but he has also carried out extensive research on policing and community safety, having produced national guidance for the operation of Police and Crime Panels in 2011 and 2012, and research on their first year in operation in 2014.

He is currently leading on CfPS’s work on English devolution, alongside work on local authority governance change (including changes to schemes of delegation, rules of procedure and other constitutional amendments), transparency and Freedom of Information, and overview and scrutiny.

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….

Digestible Democracy:  Local democracy needs to involve the widest range of people and yet the format of reports and the use of jargon puts off all but the most dedicated.  How can we present local decision making so it’s less obscure like modern jazz, and more popular, like rock and roll?

Notwestminster 2016 workshops list

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