England & Wales Democracy, devolution and governance

Viewpoint: Notwestminster 2016 – be part of a journey to redesign local democracy


We’re on the hunt for lovers of local democracy everywhere, writes Spencer Wilson of Kirklees Council and #Notwestminster – local government officers, councillors, local activists, voters, the disenfranchised, data geeks and innovators… anyone who wants to change the face of local democracy. Know anyone who fits the bill? Then spread the word.

Why? In February 2015 the #notwestminster team put on an event called We’re not in Westminster any more, challenging people to change one small thing (or lots of small things that add up to something big) to make democracy work better for all of us.

Well, we’re back again with another anthem, as we continue to pick up the mantel of making democracy less obscure like jazz, more like rock n roll for the masses!

We intended from the outset to create a platform that challenges and changes local democracy, through evolution of practical ideas and tangible outcomes. So how does that work in practice?

We’re building on the success of this year’s event, where we had 80 attendees from all manner of backgrounds, participating across 16 different workshops throughout the day, producing 48 ideas to take forward. We’ve continued to work with people on refining these ideas throughout the year, through our email network and at events such as LocalGovCamp, where we held our first Local Democracy Maker Day.

We’ve now focussed the ideas from our network into a series of Design Challenges for Local Democracy, which form the basis of our second democracy rock n roll album, imaginatively titled Notwestminster 2016! Free tickets for our main event on Saturday 13th February 2016 and fringe activities on Friday 12th February 2016 are available now – you can sign up today.

Now is your chance to join us and become part of the continuing journey; to collaborate and create.

We’d also love to hear from anyone who would like to run a 50 minute workshop with a distinctly democratic flavour in Huddersfield on Saturday 13th February 2016. Your workshop should relate to one of our design challenges. Some examples are:

  • Young people – How can we get young people involved in local democracy?
  • Access to decision makers – How can we encourage real contact between those making the decisions and those affected by them?
  • Voter information – How can we make sure voters in the local elections get the facts and figures they need?
  • Digestible democracy – How can we make it less obscure like jazz, more popular like rock n roll?
  • Open data – How can we better share the data of local democracy?
  • Community News & Campaigns – How can we connect enthusiasts and help citizens to tell the story?

There are more design challenges on our website, and you can pitch your own workshop idea if you like.

If you fancy taking up the challenge, find out more on the Notwestminster website or follow us on twitter @LDBytes

Spencer Wilson is a governance and democratic services officer at Kirklees Council. Join the Notwestminster email network.