Our Democracy Commission began with a series of Local Democracy Roadshows in Summer 2016, where we heard valuable experiences and ideas from local citizens. We’ve been continuing to gather evidence since, getting answers to your questions, finding out about what’s worked elsewhere and hearing suggestions about how we can create a stronger local democracy.
We have gathered evidence from over 1,000 people:
- 88 people took part in discussions at our local democracy roadshow events across Kirklees.
- We met with the Kirklees Youth Council, Huddersfield University Students Union, partner organisations and other groups.
- 43 witnesses gave evidence during our public inquiries and evidence gathering sessions.
- 318 members of the Kirklees e-panel shared their views.
- 441 Kirklees Council staff shared their views.
- We have heard from councillors and political groups in Kirklees.
- We have visited some other councils to learn from their experiences.
- We’ve also received comments in writing, via social media, via our web site and by email.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to talk to us about local democracy in Kirklees and beyond. What you’ve told us will be the basis for change.
What citizens said in our roadshows
You can see detailed findings from our roadshows in this report:
Some of the key things we heard in our roadshows are:
- We need to increase people’s awareness, understanding and knowledge of local democracy by improving how we engage and communicate with citizens.
- People think that the role of Councillor is important and they value it, but they would like to understand it better.
- Citizens want to have more of a voice in the decisions that matter for their local area and they’d like to be clear about what decisions they can (or can’t) influence.
- We need to strengthen the capacity of communities and residents to get involved.
- People would like to see us using new technologies and different ways of doing things to help with all of these issues.
Citizens also expressed strong views on other issues, such as a loss of identity since the district became Kirklees (although this was less of an issue for younger people). People said they are worried that local democracy may suffer when large scale devolution such as the Northern Powerhouse is brought in.
We also heard a strong view that we need to improve civic education for young people and adults. People feel that more can be done in schools and adult learning for example, focusing on people’s rights and responsibilities as a citizen.
We have explored many of these issues with the witnesses in our public inquiries.
Reviewing the evidence
We are currently reviewing and deliberating all the evidence we’ve heard – then we’ll be sharing our draft report and recommendations with our participants.
There is a huge amount to go through, as the issues you raised were far-reaching and have given us lots to debate. We’ve also taken longer than expected to complete our research, because it’s clear that citizens wanted us to look at the issues in-depth. We know that the extra time we’ve taken over this will mean that the results are more meaningful, and will give us plenty of practical ideas to implement.
We’ll keep you posted via @kirkdemocracy and our email list about what evidence we’re deliberating. We’ve also published a full online index of our research, so that you can look through the evidence too:
Please have a look at our revised timeline to see what’s coming up next…
We’re pleased to say that people’s interest in (and commitment to) this exciting project remains high – our sincere thanks to everyone who has taken part in the Kirklees Democracy Commission so far. The next phase is just as important and we really appreciate your continued support and participation.