Reflections from the Jury: Week One

Guest blog by Mike Lodge, Calderdale Council

When Mike Lodge of Calderdale Council signed up to join the jury of Innovation in Politics Awards 2020, he wasn’t sure what kind of task this would be.

Learning he would be part of a group reviewing 398 projects nominated from all over Europe, this was perhaps more Herculean than anticipated.Calderdale Conversations is one of these projects. Prototypes created by residents as part of Calderdale Council’s Public Square supported project is a very worthy nominee!The idea behind the awards is to help improve politics by recognising creative, ground-breaking efforts which achieve real results.  This is regardless of party affiliation or region and is based on values of social balance, democracy and human rights. The awards shine light on innovative work, so that it may serve as a source of inspiration.For the first time this year, there are not eight but ten categories in these awards: Quality of Life, Economy, Ecology, Education, Democracy, Digitalisation, Human Rights, Regional Development, Community and Coping with Covid-19.Mike’s journey as a jury member began on the secure jurying platform, to find out:

  • how the jury process works
  • the evaluation criteria
  • projects for evaluation.

Over the next two weeks, we'll catch up with Mike to follow the journey and discover what it’s like to be part of this process – how he gets on with evaluating the entries and how the experience grows insight, knowledge and understanding about participation in a wide range of contexts.

“I’ve entered the courtroom and taken my place in the jury box. It’s very crowded with 1000 of us in here. I’m here for a fortnight and it seems I’ve got 17 projects to evaluate. All varied in different categories and none from the UK.
I’ve read the guidelines – I need to score each project against three categories. This is going to take me some time. I think I will try to evaluate two or three a day – starting tomorrow! We’re advised to read all 17 first before we start evaluating and I’ve read the first page of each project.”

Today, we’re delighted to share some of Mike’s first thoughts:

  • Some really innovative and interesting projects
  • There will be lots to learn, copy and adapt for Calderdale, where I work
  • It will be interesting when I get to the detail to learn how much these projects are actually innovations from politicians and how many have been developed by civil servants and local government officers or local communities
  • I think that jurors should be funded to visit many of these places to make the evaluation as thorough as possible!”

Mike Lodge is a senior scrutiny officer within legal and democratic services at Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire.

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