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*seminar* The ‘Online’ Councillor: behaviours for online collaboration & community engagement

*seminar* The ‘Online’ Councillor: behaviours for online collaboration & community engagement

The expectations are growing on councillors to engage, work openly, be more accountable and move quicker on issues – and social media represents an extraordinary opportunity to do thisAndy Gibson, Sociability.org.uk

The LGIU has been working alongside its members, analysing the new forms of online political participation and taking positive steps to embed councillors in these new conversations.

We’ve found that for councillors with limited time and resource, online, networked communication is proving itself as the most efficient and effective way to listen to what residents are saying and take the proactive action they expect.

The internet offers hugely powerful new tools that are reshaping the ways communities, campaigns and candidates gather, empower and mobilise themselves like never before. People then are now regularly able to online networks and hyperlocal websites to go around local government and serve themselves.

For those not visible on these platforms then, we’ve found that the debate simply bypasses them, and leaves them out the loop and in the shadows of the conversation.

These new tools and techniques are not highly sophisticated – they are quick, easy-to-use and free. Online councillors are using the internet to achieve real value in their work.

–       They are listening more to the conversations taking place

–       They are engaging with and responding to people’s needs

–       They are harnessing this new energy to help with public activities

–       They are establishing themselves as leaders in local discussions on the big society

Services like FixMyStreet, WhatDoTheyKnow, OpenlyLocal, Neighbourhood Crime Maps, Where Does My Money Go? all highlight that a new political literacy is emerging. With online, democratic engagement being an integral part of the Coalition Government’s agenda, this changing energy is only going to continue. Any councillor looking for sustainability in their role as community leader simply can no longer afford to rely on offline activity alone.

This seminar will provide:

  • An overview of social media, free, easy-to-use internet tools and hyperlocal websites.
  • Recent research on the impact social media and hyperlocal websites are having on community activism.
  • Individual surveys and community mapping guides.
  • Approaches to listening to and engaging with online communities, identifying ‘active citizens’, organisations and groups in the locality and applying this information to strengthen the role and influence of the elected members.
  • Strategic advice on effective and efficient online engagement and community management.
  • This is a practical seminar and will give participants plenty of opportunity to explore different approaches and techniques which they can apply in their work as local councillors.

NOTE: The seminar will be very interactive. To get the most out of the session all attendees are recommended to bring a laptop (ideally with a good battery life) and charger.

Who should attend?

Councillors, who want advice on how to understand, listen and engage with local online communities.
Officers involved in supporting members or with responsibility for managing neighbourhood or area arrangements or engaging with local ‘active citizens’.


Hugh Flouch – Founder of @NetwkdNeighds & @harringayonline, working with citizens & organisations to use 2.0 for civic empowerment & collaborative governance – http://www.networkedneighbourhoods.com

David Wilcox – previously worked in journalism, community engagement, and regeneration partnerships. He is the co-author of the NESTA handbook, Social by Social – a guide to using social media for social impact, and blogs at socialreporter.com.

James Cousins –  James Cousins is a councillor in Wandsworth and has been largely ignored by Wandsworth residents on social media for a number of years. Despite this he is passionate about using social media as a way of being ignored by even more people and has regularly uses Twitter, blogs and dabbles in pretty much every other network going. James blogs at www.jamescousins.com.

Date: Thurs 27th Jan, 2011                 10:00-16:00 (Lunch provided)
Venue:    22 Upper Woburn Place, London, WC1H 0TB

LGIU Affiliated Organisations:                          £150.00 (£176.25 inc VAT)
Others:                                                                        £250 (£293.75 inc VAT)

For more information please email rob.dale@lgiu.org, message me on @robandale or call me on 020 7554 2839