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Making the most of Local Democracy Week

By September 11, 2012 No Comments
After all the excitement of the Olympics and Paralympics the idea of celebrating local democracy might seem a bit, well… ‘after the lord mayor’s show’.
But for hundreds of councils Local Democracy Week, from the 15th to the 21st October, represents the best chance of convincing young people that local government matters and is worthy of their attention.
In the face of declining voter turnout that is as pressing a need as the Olympics’ aim of inspiring a generation to take up sport. Only local democracy doesn’t have a multi-billion-pound budget and Danny Boyle to get people excited. Of course, that won’t stop people making the most of the week – and a growing number of councils are coming to us to use webcasting to boost the impact their events have.
It means we’ve seen, in some cases first-hand, the creativity and inventiveness that go into Local Democracy Week events…
  • Our first webcast for the Local Democracy Week was in 2003, when Bournemouth Borough Council ran a Big Brother-style event in which councillors competed for votes by justifying why they should remain in “their house”.
  • In 2008 West Sussex County Council ran The State of the Debate. A future state’s parliament made the lives of ‘non-adults’ a nightmare by restricting their behaviour, fashion and friends. In six months the website archive was viewed 966 times. Watch it here.
  • In 2009 six Sheffield City councillors each produced a manifesto on why they should be the City’s ‘Youth Champion’.
  • Carlisle City Council ran a ‘Young Mayor’ event in 2010 where candidates from five schools presented manifestos before councillors and staff voted in their favourite.
  • And in 2011 Rugby Borough ran a ‘Meet the Mayor’ event for school children to help introduce the Council.
This year will be no different: Hyndburn Borough Council, for example, is inviting young residents to present to a panel of judges for the right to be Council Leader for the day – and many other brilliant ideas will light up an exciting week of activity across the country.
At Public-i we’re hoping some of that inventiveness will find its way into how councils use webcasting – as it will represent the first time that we’ve been able to offer our new Connect Social webcasting product for Local Democracy Week.
Connect Social offers a host of new opportunities to make the events a more interesting, interactive experience – with councils able to take advantage of some of the social media tools we’ve built into the player – including:-
  • Live discussion (CoverItLive)
  • Post-event discussion (Disqus)
  • Crowd sampling or voting (UserVoice)
While the live discussion (CoverItLive) could help, for example, to offer commentary or promote a live debate, UserVoice offers councils the chance to hold interactive voting for those who aren’t attending, or are watching afterwards. Disqus offers viewers the chance to share more in-depth opinions and can be a useful way of building discussion before and after events.
Fundamentally, of course, this is about giving young people the chance to see how democracy is shaped and changed by their involvement. And by making a webcast (and by extension a meeting) interactive, it gives your audience a better sense of what local democracy is all about. This Connect Social document in PDF gives you more information.
If you are interested in learning more about the Public-i Connect Social online platform and how it could help the council enable young people to propose, debate and vote on a variety of initiatives please contact us. You can email me, or call on +44(0)1273 821 282. We look forward to hearing from you.