In these three submissions to the Commission on the Future of Local Government, Involve outlines our thoughts on the role of local governments in building participative, sustainable communities.

The Future of Local Government (submitted December 2011)

Here we’ve argued that citizen participation is fundamental to the sustainable well-being of local communities, and that the democratic mandate remains central to grounding local governance in the needs of those communities. In particular:

  • Citizen perspectives enrich local decision making by providing experience, insight and expertise, and contributing solutions to complex challenges.
  • People, communities and local economies thrive on being inter-connected. Public participation in local governance opens up new connections that can support economic resilience.
  • The democratic mandate keeps councils responsive and accountable, and facilitates community leadership. It is complemented (not undermined) by public participation, and councillors have an important role to play in connecting with citizens.

View the submission: Involve response to Commission on the Future of Local Government

The role of Elected Members (submitted March 2012)

In this response we provide some specific evidence and commentary in relation to two of the questions posed by the Commission:

  • How can / should local elected members encourage participatory democracy in their local areas?
  • What is the community leadership role of councillors and how can this be successfully carried out? What might councillors need?

Building on the work in Pathways through participation, we make a number of suggestions, such as:

  • New skills to support the role of councillors
  • Making good use of the skills and experience of young people
  • Encouraging deliberation as a key part of participatory democracy

View the submission:Involve response: The role of Elected Members 

The economic potential of local government (submitted March 2012)

In this submission (authored by associate Rosalie Callway) we outline three priorities in relation to local government and economic prosperity:

  • Strengthening communities – building resilience and creativity
  • ‘Inclusive’ economies – promoting equality and well-being
  • Stimulating sustainable economies and lifestyles

Using a series of case studies, we argue that these require policies which promote public engagement in sustainable economies, build community capital, and enable local ownership.

View the submission: Involve response: The economic potential of local government

These submissions were put together by Involve associates Clive Mitchell and Rosalie Callway.

Photo credit Hernán Piñera: Flickr