Swindon are working with the Leadership Centre for local government and FutureGov to explore ways of using new methods of on and offline engagement to help councillors engage with local communities in new and interesting ways as part of the 21st Century Councillors programme. Here, Gavin Calthrop from Swindon Borough Council explains a bit about the project and how it fits into Swindon’s wider aspirations as a forward thinking local authority.
“More meaningful engagement with local people is one of the key principles of our Connecting People, Connecting Places programme. The future of public services lies in more collaboration with local people and enabling active participation in decision making and service delivery at a local level.
I want Swindon to lead the way in using online tools to reach local people in new and exciting ways and this work is helping us to understand just what is possible. If we can mobilise those people who know most about the areas they live in to become co creators of services and solutions to problems then we will be able to effect real change in Swindon.
Online engagement tools offer a powerful new addition to our traditional methods and I look forward to seeing where this work take us.”
Swindon’s Connecting People, Connecting Places (CPCP) programme is built on three guiding principles:
- More meaningful engagement with people and communities
- Delivering public services that are more locally sensitive – local communities become increasingly involved in setting and delivering priorities.
- Building on a ‘sense of community’ – supporting and helping people to help themselves.
New forms of digital engagement and the use of online tools will play a central role in supporting each of these aims, in combination with offline events and action. It is hoped that the use of certain online tools and techniques will also support the council to better target public services, increase involvement in the policy making process and provide more effective communication and engagement methods.
The project will take place over the next few months with a focus on:
- Understanding current use and awareness of social media among local politicians
- Supporting local politicians and officers to make the best use of existing free tools and techniques that are available online and increase understanding of citizens and how they interact online
- Working in-depth with one cluster area to use on and offline tools and techniques to better engage with local people and groups, bringing the council and its residents together to surface local views and make change happen.
This work forms part of the wider 21st Century Councillors project led by the Leadership Centre for local government. If you are interested in meeting the 21st Century Councillors team, they will be sponsoring a room at the upcoming MyPublicServices event on 26th November in London.