Except in cases where the capacity for decision-making and effective action can only be taken on a broader scale – national or even transnational, political issues should be addressed as close as possible to people at the local level. Based on my experience in charge of citizen engagement in local authorities (one, Braintree, selected as the best local authority in England in 1993; and the other, St Edmundsbury, where the ‘Working with Communities’ strategy I developed won a Best Practice Award from the Prime Minister in 1999) and, later as Deputy Director in the national Department for Communities & Local Government, I have written/commissioned a range of materials that may assist others in strengthening democratic engagement.
A selection of resources
These are freely available on the internet:
• ’Civic Pioneers Case Study Review’: case studies of collaborative working between local authorities and citizens to improve local quality of life. (2008)
• 'The S Word’: on what subsidiarity should mean in practice (2008).
• ‘Councillors Commission’: report with recommendations on how to improve the democratic role of elected local councillors and facilitate citizen participation (2007)
• Civic Pioneers (report for the Civil Renewal Unit): an introduction to how a group of local authorities set about enhancing their democratic engagement with local people (2005).
• Putting Citizens First, with John Stewart (Municipal Journal/SOLACE – Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, 1997)
• Marketing, Competition & the Public Sector (Longman 1994)
• Citizenship Development: Towards an Organisational Model (LGMB – Local Government Management Board, 1994)
• Serving the Public: customer management in local government (Longman: 1993)
For a full listing of related resources, go to: Together We Can: resources for cooperative problem-solving