I must admit that for the last few years I’ve not heard much noise about Local Democracy Week and I wondered if it took place any more, but it seems it is alive and kicking! Local Democracy Week is fast approaching next week (15-21 October). In fact, it is actually a week of citizen participation right across Europe, as it is European Local Democracy Week.
A quick search on Google reveals a number of councils that are getting involved, so I thought I’d highlight some of what’s going on and signpost some useful links.
The aim of Local Democracy Week is really quite simple: to promote and foster democratic participation at a local level.
Who's doing what?
The great thing about an aim like this is that it can encompass all sorts of events and activities. From promoting voting in elections to getting involved in your local community through volunteering, Local Democracy can be an opportunity to showcase the whole spectrum of democratic and community engagement.
Here’s a few good ideas happening in councils next week:
London Borough of Merton
Merton Council is running a series of activities including tours of the Civic Centre for local primary schools, tours of the Houses of Parliament for schools hosted by local MPs, a speed networking event between the Youth Parliament and local councillors and a talk on the role of democracy to the Merton Children’s Council.
Portsmouth City Council
Portsmouth Council is running a whole week of events including meet your councillor days, a radio question time from a local prison on community perceptions, an open invitation to a full council meeting, a lecture on human rights, a schools debate with the Lord Mayor, talks on how parliament works and how Europe works.
Hyndburn Borough Council
Hyndburn Borough Council is offering the opportunity for one young person to become Council Leader for a day. The council will also be hosting a question time style debate for local schools and will be running “Meet the Mayor” sessions for primary schools.
St Albans District Council
Students in St Albans are being encouraged to come along and help create a democracy wall – a wall of ideas and suggestions of what they would do if they were the Council Leader for the day. St Albans Council is also running discussions and quizzes in schools, “Meet the Mayor” events and a panel evening called “Your Questions” where local politicians will be answering people’s questions.
Be a Councillor
For people who are passionate about their local community and care about local issues, participating in local democracy can be about becoming a local councillor themselves.
Through the Be a Councillor campaign, the LGA is encouraging councils and regional organisations to celebrate the important work councillors do and encourage new candidates to come forward. It’s all about finding people who are ordinary enough to be representative, but extraordinary enough to be representatives.
Here’s a short video from the LGA Chairman Sir Merrick Cockell explaining what Be a Councillor is all about.
Free resources for councils
To help councils promote the idea of becoming a councillor among committed and enthusiastic people in their local communities, the LGA has produced a toolkit of materials and resources, which you can access via the Be a Councillor group. You can also find out more on the LGA’s Be a Councillor web pages and the Be a Councillor website.
Read more about how Lancashire County Council have used the Be a Councillor resources on their campaign website.
I’ll finish by listing a few other organisations that provide useful resources to help promote the democratic process:
Get in touch
If you're using the Be a Councillor resources, we'd love to know how and where, so do post a comment here and let us know.