In the Notwestminster maker day we build a mock up of ‘civic starter’ as a way to invite people into these conversations. Based on the principles of kick starter it invites people to pledge that they will be involved in a discussion. Once enough people pledge then the discussion goes ahead involving all the people who have pledged by the closing date.
If not enough people pledge then the default decision goes ahead (e.g. ‘close the library’).
The council will then have a group of committed citizens that they can involve in discussions in whatever the best way is. Obviously there should be a public document at the end of the process hopefully outlining a proposal that can then be presented to council for decision.
Those getting involved also qualify for rewards. This provides a thank you for those taking part and an incentive to encourage a wider pool of citizens to participate. Rewards could include things like free swims or badges for example.
Each issue listed on the site comes with an updates section and a comments section so people can follow progress and instantly add views if they want.
Issues being discussed would be searchable by topic, area and closing date for example.
One challenge we didn’t resolve was how to ensure everyone was aware when issues affecting them went up on the site. Another maker day perhaps...