As we’re now starting to work with the four council areas, we’ll be publishing weeknotes to capture what we’re up to and what we’re learning. It’s part of the wider approach we’re using to learn research as we work, and share that learning and thinking publicly. Thanks to Emily Robertson-Knowlton, who shared the blog post format she’s using for the planning permissions project that mySociety is involved in with the Digital Land team at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The format is really simple – and allows us to work collectively to publish something quick but (hopefully)
Headlines Working with councils to start discovery phases for our work with them. And this is our first weeknotes! Last week… Finalised semi-annual report for Luminate, having submitted earlier in April. Started detailed discovery for councils, including project plans, briefings and research questions.. Completed draft profiles for each of our councils, situating them along dimensions of local authority variation. Attended the Digital Development Group for Participatory Budgeting in Scotland – shared information about Public Square. Started our weeknotes! This week we will… More work on discovery – including in-person discovery sessions, working through documentation and planning our visit to Calderdale Council
Every year mySociety host TICTec, a conference for those interested in how technology is changing the way we engage with society. This year’s conference was on the 19th and 20th of March, in Paris, and brought together more than 200 leaders in the Civic Tech field.Read More
Introduction A challenge for Public Square is to understand how innovation in involving communities in decision making can go from isolated examples in different places – and with different labels – to a whole-system change. On Saturday 16 February Mel Stevens and I held a workshop at the Notwestminster event in Huddersfield where we posed this question to a wide group of people interested in local democracy. We introduced Public Square then asked a series of questions about decision-making. Here’s a quick download of the conversations we had and some reflection about what we can take forward to the programme.
To help build a knowledge base for Public Square’s work, mySociety’s Head of Research Rebecca Rumbul has written a literature review examining current academic research around the question of how digital tools can assist the creation of a meaningful, participative and collaborative environment. This review will help us to explore how digital tools are already addressing the barriers to citizen participation in decision making – helping us to think about how we use digital engagement as part of our work with our council partners. The key conclusions are: Bureaucratic and institutional structures will exert pressure upon new digital platforms that
We’re asking members of our advisory groups to write about Public Square and their interest in the programme. First up, Catherine Howe exploring some of the problems with our current democratic system and how Public Square might help to address them. ‘Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’ (Winston S Churchill, 11 November
In November 2018, we invited people with an interest in local decision making to Manchester for Public Square’s first public event. We wanted to discuss with them how to improve local democracy. The attendees included people from community and voluntary organisations, active citizens, academics, and people working in local government. What we talked about Introducing Public Square The project team from The Democratic Society and mySociety introduced Public Square, describing our vision for the programme. You can see an edited-down version of the slide pack that we showed on the day below. And you can read ‘What is Public Square‘