Making Localism a Reality

Interesting day today spent at a conference in Kent for Elected Members. We spent the day talking about, as the title says, making localism a reality. My slides from my session are below:

As ever my focus was on giving members a reason to go online rather than trying to teach them how to use the tools – once you have achieved the first then the second is fairly straightforward I think.

Couple of things struck me from the conversation that I wanted to note. Firstly, there is a huge amount of energy invested in the current structures and one of the main reasons for getting better community involvement is to provide the new impetus that is needed in order to start dismantling some of these structures. Secondly, if we want localism in a network society to work then we need to stop trying to bend it to find out current democratic processes and structures – we need to observe community where it emerges and then figure out how to make the decision making process democratic. This demands greater agility, responsiveness and a fundamental restructure of our democratic process. Democracy is precocious – precious enough to make it worth reforming rather than letting it become irrelevant.

Thanks to all that listened today – and an extra thanks for not thinking I was going mad with the Star Trek TNG reference – Engage!!!

  1. paul wickenden

    October 29, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Fantastic day Catherine -one Councillor has already joined twitter. What I need to do now is harness the energy of the delegates to make the leap of faith

  2. andrewe bowles

    October 29, 2011 at 7:44 am


    Powerful message about not letting democracy become redundant. Exactly my fear.
    How we reform to fit is the difficult, but interesting question.
    Look forward to another time.


  3. Clive Mitchell (@clivemitchell1)

    November 15, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Catherine – your presentation makes a very interesting and informative read, and your subsequent comments about re-shaping the democratic structures and processes are challenging (in a good way!). One of the key tensions is balancing many views and interests with the decision-making process – and you need a governance structure where representative councillors do that important sifting and balancing, and then take accountable decisions. We need to be careful not to throw this baby out with the bathwater but, as you question, how well does local government currently hear all those views and interests, and what does that mean for the forms of governance?

    Thanks for getting me thinking down another route!


  4. Rose Ardron

    January 9, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Important points and useful slides. Have been spending time in the Occupy Movement and am realising I need to tune in to a whole new way of organising/communicating/getting things done through social media. Agility, responsiveness – yes. Visibile but weighty structures and procedures – no


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