Local government

How can local authorities work together to improve local democracy?

Local Authority Peer Learning Network
RSA, Democratic Society & MySociety

The Innovation in Democracy Programme (IiDP) supported three local authorities to involve citizens in decision-making through innovative models of deliberative democracy.

The three local authorities selected to join the programme were:

The Peer Learning Network

The Peer Learning Network was set up to share learning across the programme and to help maximise the legacy of the three citizens’ assemblies delivered through this work.

The core network was made up of participants from the three participating authorities. Other councils were also invited to be part of the network during the programme or through attending the Innovating Local Democracy Conference in January 2020.

During the course of the programme, the Peer Learning Network was convened for four workshops and the conference mentioned above. At these events, local authorities proposed discussion topics, sense-checked their ideas and collectively worked together to solve any problems they were facing.

The workshops covered the following areas:

  • Workshop 1: Introductions, preliminary learning and planning for the rest of the programme
  • Workshop 2: Bringing councillors on board (featuring councillors from each of the participating authorities)
  • Workshop 3: Disseminating the learning from the programme (featuring representatives from other councils from across the UK)
  • Workshop 4: Evaluating the programme (co-hosted with Renaisi, the programme evaluator)

Details of the conference:

  • The Innovating Local Democracy Conference was held at the People's History Museum in Manchester in January 2020.
  • It was attended by 150 local authority staff and practitioners from across the UK and further afield.
  • All the conference materials including live recordings of presentations and notes from discussions are available here

Online Learning

On top of these in-person sessions, an online ‘action learning’ set was formed to discuss how to communicate citizens’ assemblies. These discussions resulted in the ‘Telling the story of an assembly’ guide.

We hope to be able to continue supporting this network beyond the Innovation in Democracy Programme. Our first step in doing this was convening a workshop for Local Authorities in June 2020 looking at the impact of Covid-19 on their deliberative and participatory engagement plans

Please get in touch if you would be interested to find out more or join the network - email [email protected] for more information.