Participants 2019

Coming to Notwestminster 2019 or following online at #notwestminster ? Here are just some of the people you can hear from, talk to and collaborate with – not only speakers and workshop hosts, but listeners and doers too…

Miriam LevinMiriam Levin
Head of Community Action and Giving, Office for Civil Society, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Miriam has worked in community development throughout her career. Her work has focussed on how people can be involved in shaping the places where they live and take action on the things that matter to them. In her current role, she leads on three major programmes: training citizens in community organising; supporting communities, civil society organisations and councils to work more collaboratively together to tackle issues; and piloting deliberative democracy in local authorities via Citizens’ Assemblies through the Innovation in Democracy Programme. She is as surprised as anyone that this programme is finally up and running and is very excited to see where it goes from here.

Jon Alexander

Jon Alexander
New Citizenship Project

Jon Alexander is Co-Founder of the New Citizenship Project, a consultancy founded as a way to bring the skills of the creative industries to bear on inspiring people to claim their agency in society as citizens, instead of just selling stuff to people as consumers. Part thinktank, part consultancy, and still in its early years, the New Citizenship Project has worked with organisations from The Guardian to Coop Group to the National Trust – and is increasingly working with local government.

Noreen BlanluetNoreen Blanluet
Director, Co-production Network for Wales

Noreen is a co-production consultant, trainer and facilitator, but even before that has been coaching and facilitating groups for many years. She is a huge advocate of co-production for the improvement and transformation of our public services and our society in general, but it always has to start with some very tangible actions, mainly: getting people together, and talking! Noreen loves sharing what she knows, and nerding out about all the related ideas, so talk to her about: co-production (obvs), improvement, complexity theory, democracy, citizen engagement, and anything that *you* are geeking out about.

Claire SpencerClaire Spencer
Senior Policy Adviser, West Midlands Combined Authority

Claire is a committed localist who combines a passion for empowering communities of place and interest to make change with a commitment to the power of collaborative endeavour. She is currently working with the West Midlands Combined Authority as a senior policy adviser, focusing on shaping and delivering the region’s burgeoning inclusive growth agenda. She has worked across the public, private and third sectors, and has also held public office as a councillor in Birmingham.


EvieEvie Whittingham
Kirklees Youth Councillor & Young Commissioner

Being a Youth Councillor has completely changed my perspective of the world. I have found an interest in democracy and politics that I never knew I had, developed my social skills, planning skills and confidence, as well as showing me that I can have a say in what happens in my local area. I have become a young commissioner to make sure that young people in Kirklees continue to have the same amazing opportunity that I have had, to spread what I have learnt in my time as a youth councillor and to further develop the skills and knowledge that being a member of Kirklees Youth Council has taught me.

Rachel Spencer-Henshall

Rachel Spencer-Henshall

Director for Public Health, Corporate Strategy and Commissioning, Kirklees Council

Rachel has been the Director for Public Health in Kirklees since April 2015. She leads a team of public health staff who passionately care about improving health and reducing inequalities working with people not doing to them. In January 2019 she was successfully appointed Strategic Director for Corporate Strategy and Commissioning in addition to her Public Health role. She hopes to use this additional responsibility to embed health and wellbeing in all policies, as well as ensuring Kirklees is an intelligence led Council. In her spare time she enjoys walking and cooking, as well as being a first time mum to her little boy called Leo.

Tim HughesTim Hughes
Director, Involve

Tim is the director of Involve, the UK’s leading public participation charity. He is a leading advocate and practitioner of participatory and deliberative democracy. Tim has advised national, devolved and local governments in the UK on designing and facilitating effective participatory processes. He has overseen and co-lead facilitated large deliberative processes, including the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit, Citizens’ Assembly on Social Care and Citizens’ Assembly for Northern Ireland. And he has worked with multilateral organisations – including the OECD, Council of Europe and Open Government Partnership – to improve the practice of participation and open government globally.

Lizzie AdamanLizzie Adams
Project and Governance Lead, Involve

Lizzie is project and governance lead at Involve, the UK’s leading public participation charity. She works across a number of Involve’s projects, covering local democracy, data and new technologies. Lizzie has extensive knowledge on the governance of grassroots organisations, having previously been responsible for the delivery of all services and funded programmes at the Small Charities Coalition. Outside of her work at Involve, Lizzie is a trustee and governance sub-committee lead for a small charity called RefugeeYouth UK. This organisation uses the creative arts combined with participatory action research to support young refugees in their development, inclusion and integration into the wider community.

Sean PeacockSean Peacock
Open Lab, Newcastle University

Sean is a PhD student in Digital Civics. His research interests centre on the ways that digital technology can support children and young adults participating in placemaking, who are often overlooked by urban planners and designers. His PhD project involves working with young people in schools and youth councils and interviewing council officers, charity workers, educators and technology designers. By doing this, he is hoping to better understand the opportunities and limitations that exist for young people to get involved in shaping places and how technologies can be used by young people as tools for communication, sense-making and activism around placemaking. He is interested in collaborating with individuals and organisations who wish to engage young people meaningfully in local political, civic and environmental issues.

Arianna GiovanniniDr Arianna Giovannini
Senior Lecturer in Local Politics and Deputy Director of the Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC), Department of Politics, People and Place, De Montfort University

Arianna’s research focuses on territorial and local politics, with a particular interest in devolution, governance rescaling and democracy. Most recently, her work has concentrated on ‘Devo Deals’ and the Northern Powerhouse agenda, as well as on the link between territorial identity and devolution in the North. Her latest book (co-edited with Craig Berry) ‘Developing England’s North. The Political Economy of the Northern Powerhouse‘ was published by Palgrave in 2018. She is also a Fellow of the RSA and a Trustee of the UK Political Studies Association.  

James McLaughlin

James McLaughlin
Head of Democratic Services, Rotherham Council

James has been Head of Democratic Services at Rotherham MBC for the past three years and is also the regional representative for Yorkshire &  Humberside and the North East on the Board of the Association of Democratic Services Officers. James has been navigating local democracy for the best part of twenty years already, across a number of councils, so remember to purchase his explosive memoirs when he reaches retirement age in 2048!


Andrew MycockDr Andrew Mycock
Reader in Politics, University of Huddersfield

Andy is Reader in Politics at the University of Huddersfield. His research interests focus on issues of youth citizenship and democratic participation. He served on the UK government’s Youth Citizenship Commission from 2008 to 2009. He recently contributed to the UK Parliament Digital Democracy Commission project, ‘Hardcopy or #Hashtag: Young people’s vision for a digital parliament’ and he was the independent chair of the Kirklees Democracy Commission.


Sym RoeSym Roe
Democracy Club

Sym is a developer and has worked in the open / government space for years. He runs Democracy Club, partly by writing code and partly by working with others to build a community of organisations who want to work together. Democracy Club don’t have a view of ‘the perfect democracy’. Instead, they try to make constant iterative improvements based on citizens’ needs. Democracy Club create the tools to aggregate data for democracy and make it available to everyone. They also build apps to answer direct questions from voters, such as:
Who can I vote for?‘ and ‘Where do I vote?

Vina Randhawa

Vina Randhawa
Area and Neighbourhood Manager, Democracy Service, Kirklees Council

Vina has over 25 years’ experience in local government. She started her career as a community development practitioner supporting, enabling and empowering citizens. Her passion for genuine citizen engagement and co-production has never wavered and led her to discover the Place Standard, developed in Scotland, which now forms part of Kirklees Council’s new approach to citizen engagement. Vina is currently leading on delivering Place Standard engagement to facilitate conversations between communities, different sectors and decision makers to improve quality of life, and she is keen to share the journey so far…


Perry Walker
Talk Shop 

Perry is one of the founders of Talk Shop. They have just finished getting 600 people to discuss driverless cars, in 36 events across England, funded by Nesta. Talk Shop are now starting to get discussion events going on the funding of adult social care, supported by a Catalyst grant from the Royal Society of Arts. They are also very concerned to stimulate dialogue across divides, such as Brexit. See Helping people to find common ground for some of the ideas Talk Shop are pursuing on this. Perry is a member of Rhizome, a cooperative providing facilitation services, and a Fellow of Involve.

Mark Pepper

Mark Pepper
Development Manager, Ambition Lawrence Weston

Mark is responsible for overall delivery of Ambition Lawrence Weston’s aims through the Lawrence Weston Community Plan. He is ALW’s representative on the Big Local Steering Group and Chair of the Lawrence Weston Neighbourhood Planning Group. Mark lives in Lawrence Weston and has good connections in the community from his previous youth and social work, and has experience of partnership working to gain more funding and delivery of local objectives.


Margaret Bolton

Margaret Bolton
Director of Policy, Local Trust

Margaret has a background in policy, research, public affairs and communications. Previous posts include Lottery Communications Director at Arts Council England and Policy and Research Director at NCVO. Before her current role at Local Trust, Margaret combined interim and change management contracts with consultancy work. Immediately prior to Local Trust she worked at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (CGF) leading on evaluation and learning and communications.


Dave Mckenna

Dr Dave Mckenna

I am a freelance public servant and local democracy geek. I have 20 years local government experience and a PhD in local politics. I help councils and other public bodies with their improvement, design and research work. In my own work I love to use solution focussed techniques and to learn about the amazing things people are doing to make democracy better.

Find me online at:
Practical Public Governance
How to be a public servant – Medium

Jonathan Bradley

Jonathan Bradley
Bang the Table

After many years working as a UK Partner of Bang the Table, Jonathan joined them in 2018 as an engagement specialist for the UK. Bang the Table’s mission is to enable public participation as a fundamental part of well-functioning 21st century democracies, by forging constructive relationships between communities and the institutions of government. He is also co-founder and a Director at Participate UK, who get people involved in difficult conversations and manage complex public consultations. When he’s not thinking about best practice online participation Jonathan enjoys singing in the “internationally famous” Mousehole Male Voice Choir and spends a lot of time by the beach or on his boat, in Cornwall.

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.

Mel Stevens

Mel Stevens
The Democratic Society

Mel leads on The Democratic Society’s Local Government work, working with councils across the country to improve how they involve the people they serve in their work.

Outside this role her other experience ranges across helping West Sussex County Council create a Customer Insight Team, establishing a Sussex Research Engagement Network, conducting leadership development for councillors, and helping a reform prison trust improve their use of data.

John Popham

John Popham
Digital Storyteller

John is a freelance Digital Storyteller based in Huddersfield. He has a strong track record of helping public and voluntary sector organisations to develop their online voices. He also runs a number of social enterprises, including Ageing Digital, which introduces older people to life-enhancing new technologies through fun and innovative means, Citizens Live, which offers low-cost video services and live streaming and the Civic Story Factory, which is dedicated to telling great stories of the people who work in public and voluntary services and the differences they make to people’s lives. 


Notwestminster 2019