What about medium-sized?

In 2006, before the financial crisis and the resultant fiscal collapse, the last Government published a Local Government White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities. This is to some degree the ur-text of localism. It also points to some of the financial and administrative challenges that have confronted councils, with increasing intensity, ever since. The White […]

Fostering open data – what community news can do

How can community news and info publishers help improve access to local data? asks Mark Headd, chief data officer for the City of Philadelphia, in a Knight Digital Media Centre blogpost. According to Headd, when you ask for data, explain why you want the data, how you hope to help the community with it. According […]

Think national, act local

This column originally appeared in the Local Government Chronicle.  For the last month or so, I’ve been working on one issue – how to take decisions openly – in two different projects, one in Whitehall and one in Lewes District Council. The contrasts are fascinating. With the Cabinet Office I’ve been running a discussion about […]

Building A Platform for Evidence Use in Local Government

I attended the “Informed Future” workstream at the 2012 Solace Summit, and whilst I won’t try to give a blow-by-blow account I want to share here some of the key things which emerged, for me.  There is a lot of hard work at many levels required before Local Government in general can be really effective in this […]

Should there be a ‘duty to involve’ for national policy?

As Edward Andersson from Involve noted in his recent blog reviewing the new consultation principles issued by government: ”Today consultation has, for many citizens, become a byword for formalistic, tick box exercises, done to mask a decision which is already a ‘done deal’.” Edward rightly suggested that the new principles, while important, fall short of […]

Consultation overload

Government consultations don’t stand on their own – they compete in a marketplace of political engagement opportunities national, local, formal and informal. An interesting snapshot of how crowded that marketplace is comes from Brighton & Hove, where the strategic partnership have undertaken an audit of all “significant or major” consultation activity planned across the local […]

20 things from UK GovCamp (#ukgc12)

As suggested by Dan Slee, here are twenty of the things I learned at UKGovCamp. (“We” here refers to GovCamp attenders and fellow-travellers rather than Demsoc). 1. GDS is getting big and getting mainstream. It feels like for the past couple of years we’ve been playing with a cute little puppy called “Gov.uk”, and all […]

Finding all of the interesting data within one local authority area

This new project from Paul Evans looks good: I’ve never seen anyone try to pull together a good index of all of the relevant and interesting data that is available within one local authority area with the aim of giving school pupils something to work with, so over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing […]

Summit to cheer about

We’ve been involved in a fair few unconferences as participants or organisers, so we’re really pleased to be co-facilitating the Solace Summit, in Edinburgh in October, which is taking the radical-for-conferences step of involving the audience properly, and trying to achieve things (rather than talk about them). The typical local government conference has a parade […]

Mutual trading standards

Mutuals are a popular concept at the moment – and a new report (pdf) from Consumer Focus suggests Lambeth’s “John Lewis” council might be accompanied by “John Lewis” trading standards inspections. The paper by Paul Connolly (a former colleague from the 2005 Hampton Review of regulation) proposes a mutual model for trading standards (and eventually […]