Public inquiries calendar

Public inquiries calendar

We’re putting questions about local democracy to a series of witnesses who have relevant experience or knowledge. We’ll be asking for ideas, examples and insights based on things that our citizens said during our local democracy roadshows, and based on our other research.  We’re still making appointments, so we’ll add any new details here as we get them.

Follow live: You can follow the public inquiries live via webcast (in video or audio format) and on twitter @kirkdemocracy. You can share your ideas any time using #kirkdemocracy

More info: What’s a public inquiry?


Tuesday 20th September

Cllr Robert Light – 2pm to 3.20pm
Robert Light has been a Kirklees Councillor for 24 years. He shared both a national and regional view of devolution.


Video summary – Regional democracy and our communities
Watch the full webcast – Robert Light 


Monday 26th September

Roger Bushell – 2pm to 3.20pm
Roger offered a view of the changing relationship between councils and citizens, including an overview of findings from Changing the Narrative:  A New Conversation Between the Citizen and the State (PDF)


Video summary – Changing the narrative between citizens and state
Watch the full webcast – Roger Bushell


Tuesday 27th September

Professor Andrew Taylor – 10am to 11.20am
Andrew is professor of politics at the University of Sheffield (before that he was lecturer and professor at the University of Huddersfield). He has been the Chair of the Members Allowances Independent Review Panel since 1999. We talked about the role of councillor, including how we support councillors, how we encourage people to become councillors and how we improve accountability.


Video summary – The changing nature of what it means to be a councillor
Watch the full webcast – Andrew Taylor

Adrian Lythgo – 2pm to 3.20pm
Adrian is Chief Executive of Kirklees Council. He is also Returning Officer for elections in Kirklees. We talked about many aspects of local democracy, including how the role of councillor is changing, devolution, involving communities more in decision-making and how changing our cycle of elections in Kirklees would affect our council, our elected representatives and local citizens. We included questions that you asked at our local democracy roadshow events.

Video summary – Why democracy matters in our chaning council
Watch the full webcast – Adrian Lythgo


Wednesday 28th September

Professor Robin Hambleton – 10am to 11.20am
Robin shares some examples of regional government models from different countries and talked about what has worked and why. You can find out more about the examples in this English Devolution guide (PDF) that Robin produced for the Local Government Association.

(there was no webcast for this session, but we live tweeted it via @kirkdemocracy and we will share an audio recording later)

Ed Hammond – 11.30am to 12.20am
Ed works for the Centre for Public Scrutiny and leads on research about devolution. He provides practical support to councils on how the devolution process can be made more accountable and transparent. We talked about how decision-making works now in councils and regions, and ways that it could be more accountable.

Video summary – How decision-making works in councils and regions
Watch the full webcast – Ed Hammond


Thursday 29th September

Catherine Needham – 11.30am to 12.50pm
Catherine and her colleagues at the University of Birmingham have recently completed a research project looking at The 21st Century Councillor.  We asked Catherine some of your questions about councillors, such as how we improve understanding of what councillors actually do, and how we make sure that everyone has an effective councillor.

Catherine Needham

(there is no webcast for this session, but we tweeted it live via @kirkdemocracy and we will share an audio recording later)

Anthony Zacharzewski – 3.30pm to 4.50pm
Anthony set up the Democratic Society and runs it day-to-day. We talked about networked communities and citizens’ engagement in local democracy and decision making, including how digital technologies can be used to help us have better conversations (and what the limitations of digital approaches are).

Video summary – Better conversations with citizens
Watch the full webcast – Anthony Zacharzewski

Arthur Charvonia – 3.30pm to 4.50pm
Arthur is Strategic Director Monitoring Officer at Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils. He played a key role in the council voluntarily moving to a cycle of four yearly elections. We talked about what this process involved.

(there is no webcast for this session, but we will share an audio recording later)


Monday 3rd October

Councillor Sir Stephen Houghton – 2pm to 3.20pm
Sir Steve is Leader of Barnsley Council and has been a councillor for 28 years. We talked about the changing role of councillors in the context of the challenges facing local government and in relation to devolution. We also discussed issues you raised in our roadshow events, such as how we make sure that all councillors are effective and how we encourage the next generation of councillors.


Video summary – Reinventing the role of councillor as services reduce
Watch the full webcast – Cllr Steve Houghton

Sharon Salvanos – 3.30pm to 4.50pm
Sharon is Electoral Services Manager for Kirklees Council. We heard about the work that Kirklees Council already do to encourage voter turnout and we discussed what else might help to increase voter interest. We talked about the challenges of having different elections on the same day (which there is currently a trend for). We also discussed what the impact might be if we change our electoral cycle in Kirklees. At the moment we have local elections three years out of every four, and we’ve been asking the public and our witnesses what they think about having an all-out local election once every four years instead.


Video summary – The challenges of managing elections
Watch the full webcast – Sharon Salvanos


Wednesday 5th October

Cllr David Harrington and Cllr Gillian Corr  – 10am to 11.20am
David is Group Leader of the IBIS Ward Councillors on Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and Gillian is Deputy Group Leader. David has a strong national reputation for being a forward-thinking councillor who uses digital approaches to support and facilitate his role as a community leader. We talked about how digital and mobile technologies could help us to do democracy differently and better. We also be discussed whether the use of digital technologies can help us to engage more young people in local democracy, voting and decision-making.


Video summary – How councillors can use digital to connect with citizens
Watch the full webcast – Cllr David Harrington and Cllr G Corr

Professor Colin Copus – 11.30pm to 12.50pm
Colin is Professor of Local Politics at De Montfort University and is Chair of the Councillor Commission, which is an independent review of the role and work of the councillor. He shared some of the insights from his current work about the contribution that councillors make to the governance of their communities and the country. We discussed some of the issues that you shared in our local democracy roadshows, including how we can improve trust by finding ways of making politicians more accountable, how councillors can be better at communicating decisions, and how we can support councillors to be effective representatives, advocates and enablers.


Video summary – Councillors are part of local communities, but are also different
Watch the full webcast – Colin Copus


Thursday 6th October

Neil McInroy – 10am to 11.20am
Neil is Chief Executive Officer of CLES (the Centre for Local Economic Strategies), a charity dedicated to economic development and local government. He shared experiences of the changing relationship between citizens, state and commerce, in the context of public service reform, regional devolution and social justice (Neil chairs the Greater Manchester Poverty Action Group).

Video summary – New relationships between councils, civil society and commerce
Watch the full webcast – Neil McInroy

Nick Booth – 11.30pm to 12.50pm
Nick runs Podnosh, which he set up in 2005 to work with government and the third sector to grow the civic conversation online, with the aim of creating a healthier local democracy and healthier communities. We talked about how to create opportunities for local people to interact with decision-making outside of formal systems (which our roadshow participants said they would like), how we can make it easier for people to find out what’s happening in their area, and how we can make better use of digital and mobile technologies to strengthen local democracy.

Video summary – Growing the civic conversation, with humanity and empathy
Watch the full webcast – Nick Booth


Friday 7th October

Professor Colin Mellors – 2pm to 3.20pm
Colin is Chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. He gave us an overview of the electoral review process (which includes issues such as the number of councillors, the cycle of elections and the effectiveness of representation) and shared some of the experiences of other councils. We asked what our main considerations should be, whether financial savings can (or should) be a factor in how often we have local elections, and how changing our electoral cycle or having a different number of councillors might affect voter turnout and representation.

Video summary – Electoral reviews are an opportunity to improve how councils are run
Watch the full webcast – Colin Mellors

Dominic Campbell – 3.30pm to 4.50pm
Dominic runs FutureGov, who design public services for the digital age in the UK, Australia and many places in between. We talked about how we might use digital and mobile technologies – and the culture of digital – in response to some of the things that our roadshow participants were interested in.

Video summary – How digital culture can improve our local democracy
Watch the full webcast – Dominic Campbell


Monday 10th October

John Turner – 2pm to 3.20pm
John is the Chief Executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators. We talked about elections and voting, including whether the cycle of a local election has any impact on the level of annual voter registration, turnout and voter interest. In our roadshows, citizens felt that people should be able to vote in as many ways (and in as many places) as possible. We asked for views and ideas about that, as well as whether local elections should be more about individuals than parties.

Video summary – Practical issues with running elections

Watch the full webcast – John Turner

Rob Vincent – 3.30pm to 4.50pm
Rob was the Chief Executive at two councils, including Kirklees Council. He is now an Electoral Commissioner and is also Deputy Chair of the Bradford Community Health Trust, and Chair of the Kirklees Theatre Trust. We talked about what good governance and decision-making looks like, how we can make sure that local democracy stays rooted in communities by supporting councillors, and how devolution might impact on the role of councillors.

Video summary – Making sure local democracy stays rooted in communities

Watch the full webcast – Rob Vincent


Tuesday 11th October

Peter MacFadyen and Mel Usher – 10am to 11.20am
Along with Mel, Peter has played a key role in developing an innovative approach to running Frome Town Council. Independents for Frome was created to support a group of individuals to stand and get elected there in 2011.  Peter wrote up his initial experiences of gaining and using power in Flatpack Democracy. We asked what we can learn from Frome to help us strengthen local communities, connect citizens with decision-making and make democracy work better for people at a very local level.

(there was no webcast for this session, but we live tweeted it via @kirkdemocracy and we will share an audio recording later)

Dr Paul Hepburn – 11.30am to 1pm
Paul is a post–doctoral researcher for the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice at the University of Liverpool.  His work looks at how can we create more collaborative, inclusive and democratic processes for developing policy and delivering public services. Recently Paul has evaluated the Liverpool Mayoral model and the co-production of tablet technology for elderly people. We talked about creating opportunities for local people to be part of decision making, making more use of digital technologies and improving participation in democracy.

Video summary – Using new technologies to improve participation in democracy

Watch the full webcast – Paul Hepburn

Cormac Russell – 2pm to 3.20pm
Cormac is Managing Director of Nurture Development and a faculty member of the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute at Northwestern University, Chicago. Cormac’s work is about community-driven change and citizen-centred democracy and he’ll be sharing an overview of Asset-Based Community Development. We talked about how councillors can work more effectively with citizens, including how we can make sure there’s more direct public and community involvement in decision making.

Video summary – The neighbourhood is where change happens

Watch the full webcast – Cormac Russell


Wednesday 12th October

Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira – 10am to 11.20am
Cristina is Professor of Politics at the University of Leeds and was one of the commissioners of the Digital Democracy Commission, set up by the Speaker of the House of Commons. We asked for ideas in response to some of the suggestions you came up with in our roadshow for using digital and mobile technologies more. Our participants said we could use digital approaches to improve voter registration and turnout (though they were worried about security and digital exclusion), to create more direct public and community involvement in decision making, and to engage young people.

Video summary – 3 ideas for using digital to engage people in democracy

Watch the full webcast – Cristina Leston-Bandeira


Friday 4th November

Joe Mitchell and Sym Roe from Democracy Club – 9am to 10am
Joe Mitchell and Sym Roe from Democracy Club

Democracy Club are a network of volunteers who are creating the digital infrastructure for a stronger democracy. They believe that “Democracy runs on good data”. The essential data for democracy includes candidates, polling stations, election results, meetings, what decisions are being made (and when and by who) – and how citizens can get involved. Good data can help notify people about decisions that are affecting them and can be used to encourage participation. We talked about how we can use open data to help us have better local elections and we shared some of your questions from our local democracy roadshows in Kirklees.

(there was no webcast for this session, but we tweeted it live via @kirkdemocracy and we will share an audio recording later)


Tuesday 8th November

Craig Wright – 9am to 10am

Craig is a partner at KPMG, where he leads the Internal Audit practice across the North and is based in Manchester. We talked about what makes good governance and heard examples of good decision-making models. We discussed the Leader and Cabinet model, Overview and Scrutiny, and ways of making councillors more accountable (which citizens asked for in our roadshows).

(there was no webcast for this session, but we tweeted it live via @kirkdemocracy and we will share an audio recording later)


Wednesday 16th November

Nick Golding – 1.15pm to 2.15pm

Nick is the editor of the Local Government Chronicle and has been a journalist for 17 years. He has a passion for local politics and the decentralisation of power. We talked about the role of the press in local civic society and the relationship between councillors and the press. Our roadshow participants said they feel that the local press tends to focus on negative aspects of the council and councillors, which makes people jaded with democracy. We asked for Nick’s feedback on this and other issues you’ve raised, such as how we can be better at communicating local decisions.

(there was no webcast for this session, but we tweeted it live via @kirkdemocracy and we will share an audio recording later)


Lord Kerslake – 
2.45pm to 3.45pm

Lord Kerslake is a member of the House of Lords. He is also Chair of Peabody, London’s King’s College Hospital, the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) and London CIV, and is President-Elect of the Local Government Association. In the context of austerity and the wider devolution agenda, we talked about the main challenges for councils in terms of governance, accountability and decision-making. We discussed the impact of elected mayors and working with combined authorities, the potential impact of making changes to our cycle of elections, and how we can make sure that the right checks and balances are in place throughout devolution.

(there was no webcast for this session, but we tweeted it live via @kirkdemocracy and we will share an audio recording later)