About Me

Full-time husband and dad, Head of Governance and Democratic Services at Kirklees Council. Passionate about democracy, local government, Sheffield United, my mountain bike and punk rock. Views here are my own

Sunday, 13 September 2015

#LDMaker15 and #LocalGovCamp - Some Quick Reflections

This is a very quick post following two exciting, creative and thought provoking events - LDMakers15 and Local Gov Camp.

I'm sure there will be loads of post-event blogs which I urge you all to read.  As I'm a bit lazy I'm going to point you to Phil Rumen's excellent blog post which sums a lot up for me and tells the story of the journey many of us have been on which resulted in the Makers session on the Friday.  A special thank you to Phil for his efforts in pulling it off.  Top man.

Whilst I will commit to sharing the details of the stuff I was involved in over the two days, this post is just a general refection, obviously with a focus on local democracy.

The most heartening outcome for me was that local democracy, both specifically and generally, seemed to be much more of a continuing feature over the two days.  The fact that we were able to get democracy people, councillors, makers, activists and digital folk together for a full day to try and resolve our design challenges was something we could have only dreamt of 12 months ago.  There is still much to do, but the fact that so many people selflessly gave up their time provides me with hope and confidence for the future.  Thank you.

My optimism increased further when I heard the pitches that were put forward on Saturday.  Local democracy was front and centre with pitches on accessibility to voting, devolution, the challenges of participatory versus representative democracy and some dodgy session on redesigning local democracy.  I look forward to reading and sharing the session write-ups.

Having sometimes wondered if local democracy was getting lost or forgotten in the whole digital discussion I am feeling more positive.  Perhaps it's not the Cinderella we thought it was Dave.  It's always about what happens next so we'll try and keep the local democracy train rolling all the way to Notwestminster on 12 and 13 February.  Do come and join us on that journey, I think it will be a good one.

PS also massive thanks to Nick Hill (great to finally meet you), Diane Sims (digital artist and partner in crime), Catherine Howe (always good to catch up and be inspired), Sarah Lay (good to chat, about music as well as digital), Ed Hammond (enjoyed your session), Dave McKenna (wasn't the same without you) and the Notwestmister gang.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

#Notwestminster - Thank You

I will post in more detail about yesterday's event when I have fully recovered and had a chance to reflect properly.  This post is simply a big "Thank You."

I have never been involved in planning an event on this scale before and therefore take my hat off to people who do this sort of thing for a living.  I now realise that it is a big jigsaw, with many pieces.  Those pieces only fall into place as a result of people who are willing, committed and selfless.  So this post is in recognition of all those folks who contributed to #notwestminster.

Thank you to.... our sponsors.  Without them having the bravery to buy into a concept the event would not have got off the ground.

Thank you to.... our supporters.  In particular, my employer, Kirklees Council, Brent at the Media Centre for providing an outstanding venue and Huddersfleld University whose students gave up their time to help the planning and running of the day.

Thank you to.... the team.  All of the leg work was carried out by a few selfless folks who did the majority of the work in their own time because they believe in local democracy.  How great is that?  So thanks to David, Spencer, Andrea, Aggie, Jane, Andrew and a special shout out to Diane Sims who is truly a digital artist.

Thank you to ... our participants who pitched their ideas and backed it up with their valuable time on a Saturday.  I was truly gob smacked at the incredible depth of experts who signed up without hesitation.

Thank you to.... my LocalGov Digital colleagues without whom there would have been none of this.  Sarah Jennings and Liz Copeland deserve special mention as do Carl Haggerty, Phil Rumens and Sarah Lay.  Their support, advice and encouragement have been invaluable.

A very personal thank you to.... Dave Mckenna.  For many years Dave has been a sounding board, an inspiration, partner in crime and the brains of the outfit.  We started LDBytes together and had the germ of an idea to one day have a local democracy event.  Without him there would definitely have been none of this *tips hat*

And finally, thank you to.... everyone who came, contributed and committed to keep the conversation going.  At a time when there seems to be an obsession about the price of local democracy it is reassuring to be reminded that there are many people who value local democracy and are prepared do something about making it work better.