Many thanks to everyone who has made comments so far – as a lot have come in directly over email this post is a round up of these. I have written it assuming that you have read the report – or at least this summary.
The overall findings seem to have hit a chord with many people and the feedback has been very constructive (including some comments about accessibility of the actual design which we will sort in the final version – thank you). If this is not your response to the report then please let us know!
I have been struck by the enthusiastic reception we have had with democratic services officers as a way of understanding their potential role with respect to a more digital future.
In particular the distinction between first and next generation internet use has been useful to people and connects into ongoing discussions in many councils about equipping people with tablets in order to cut costs in terms of printing – the potential for behaviour change from cost saving is a useful connection.
Toby Blume has recommended some related work carried out with the urban forum which is also very much in sync with the thinking in the Networked Councillor report:
He also pointed out the links between the Lambeth work on the Cooperative Council and the ambition for a more co-productive relationship with the public and I am hoping we can draw this thought out more in the planned workshops/discussions.
A number of people have commented on the suggestions around a change in the approach to member training, and I am hoping that we can develop some shared work in this area after the LGA Annual conference when we would hope to publish the final version of the report.
The difference in officer and councillor perceptions has also been commented on a number of times – usually with an acknowledgement of the fact that it would be more productive to have this discussion in a shared space – something we hope to be able to do in the events. However there has also been some caution in this with experienced officers voicing their concerns over the willingness of councillors to accept help and support from officers in this area – this is definitely something that needs further debate.
Within this concern was a feeling that many members do not feel the need to be more connected to their electorate between elections. If the analysis is correct that we need more networked councillors in order to encourage greater levels of participation (which we are taking as a good thing!), then it will be useful to understand how representative this is of members as a whole – this might be something that the LGA can help with.
There also seems to be an acknowledgement of the fact that political parties have a role to play in all this and this would perhaps be a useful focus for a workshop at some point. It’s perhaps even more important as we see more NOC councils or significant splits in the main parties, and this may mean that they are open to these kinds of ideas.
We have also had some interesting comments about how a more networked councillor could interact with more networked communities – looking at examples of hyperlocal blogs or community websites – and this links back to Toby’s point about a more co-productive relationship. The question of ‘knowing who you are talking to’ came up in this context as well.
In addition to event planning we will also be sitting down with Carl Whistlecraft as part of his role on the local digital steering group to make sure that this work fits into what they are doing – the results of this will be talked about at the LGA Annual conference.
So – this is a real whistle-stop tour of discussions to date, so if it sounds off beam then please comment. If you are a networked councillor – or work with one – then you may want to point them towards the events:
- Cambridge: Networked Councillor beta meeting – 17th June – this is an expert group meeting to look at the research and refine the final version of the report
- LGA Annual Conference:
- ‘Skills for the Networked Councillor’ session 5.50-6.20pm Tues 2nd July – this will be a practical session run by Public-i with help from actual networked councillors
- ‘East of England LGA & Public-i – The Networked Councillor’ 8-9am Thurs 4th July – this will be an overview and discussion of the research report
- Innovation Zone 12-12.45pm Thurs 4th July – this is a chance to discuss ‘what next’ for the networked councilor
We are keen to try and connect some like-minded people together as part of this work so if you want to come to one of these events then please let us know either here or on eventbrite.
And finally – as we think about the final version of the report and next steps then let us know if you are interested in getting involved – will blog about plans here soon!