We’re putting Kirklees at the heart of the debate about how we can create a stronger local democracy by holding our own Democracy Commission. Our aim is to make recommendations about how democracy could develop in our area and beyond over the next decade, based on what we learn from our participants.
This is a joint project with the University of Huddersfield, which will be led by an independent Chair, Dr Andrew Mycock (Reader in Politics at the University) and an all-party team of councillors: Andrew Palfreeman, Andrew Cooper, Andrew Marchington, Cathy Scott, Eric Firth, Fazila Fadia and Gemma Wilson).
The Commission will gather both public and expert evidence from across Kirklees and the rest of the country before publishing a series of reports and recommendations in December 2016. For example, we’ll be taking evidence from councils which have already experimented with different methods of working.
Our findings will be shared widely with local and national networks, including government departments. We’re pleased that a wide range of national organisations have already agreed to take part, including the Centre for Public Scrutiny, the Local Government Association and the Electoral Commission.
There are lots of ways for you to get involved, including a series of local democracy roadshow events in July and August 2016, and ways to participate online. The Commission’s meetings will also be public and will be webcast. You can find the latest information on our Join the debate page, follow the conversation on twitter, or sign up to receive email updates:
Quotes from some of the Commission members
“Any problems with democracy are not confined to Kirklees. All the evidence illustrates lower participation in local elections, with reduced levels of trust in politicians nationally. Large sections of society feel their views are not represented by their elected representatives. There are also possible changes which can be made to the election process itself – digital technology offers more opportunities, especially at a time when councils face huge financial challenges.
“What the last few weeks have clearly shown is that the public has strong ideas about how they should be served by their elected representatives. We want to hear from them and, we hope, might be able to encourage a real change in the basis of our democracy.”
– Andrew Palfreeman
“This is an exciting and also a vital piece of work. In one sense, we should all be guarding against the risk that local democracy is not out of step with the changes in society.
“Kirklees has been clear for a number of years now about its changing relationship between council and citizens, not least that there is less money and services have to change, that communities need to do more for themselves and each other, and that technology can equally be a great enabler and a huge barrier to different groups.
“We know that people have not lost interest in their community – so why is there a drop off in interest in democracy? And if the role of the council is changing, why not the role of the councillor? But mainly, we need to understand how people feel democracy can be improved. It is would be wrong to think that we hold all those answers.”
– Dr Andy Mycock