This post is some initial thoughts for my Notwestminster workshop pitch (by the way - you have until 23 November if you want to pitch something - first batch of tickets are available 2 November @ 11.00 details here).
Council meetings discuss many issues that affect people yet they are poorly attended by the public and often pass unnoticed. How can we get people to take part in council meetings so that they can be involved in debates that affect them?
By Council meetings I mean all of those meetings taking place in town halls that are formally open to the public. Full council meetings, planning meetings, scrutiny meetings etc etc. Problem is that the public just aren't that into them.
Lots of councils use webcasting and social media to encourage greater engagement which is great but doesn't quite do it.
I think Dominic Campbell captured the problem when he suggested at a Govcampcymru session that communication is not the issue - It's the product that needs to be changed.
Colin Copus has described council meetings as being theatres of representation. This neatly captures the way in which councillors 'perform' for the public in meetings. But not that many are buying tickets.
Councils meetings do look a bit strange to the outside world. Odd rules of procedure, hard to decipher reports and difficult to follow debates take them about as far away from a contemporary media production as you could possibly get. I think it is safe to say that they would be as recognisable to someone living in the 1930s as to someone living now.
Of course these are meetings bound by a host of legal requirements but there must be a better way of doing things.
The Rock and Roll democracy session I ran at GovcampCymru came up with a few snazzy ideas including meetings like gigs, with tickets and bars and councillors like rock stars. People can imagine something better given half a chance.
So I am thinking about a Notwestminster session that asks questions like:
What do citizens need from council meetings?
What would make people want to get involved?
How can meetings be (more?) exciting and entertaining?
What could council meetings be like? Gigs? Theatre? X Factor? Question Time?
It would be great to know what you think.
I haven't worked out how the workshop should run so let me know if you have any ideas about that as well.
Vote in the poll to see what metaphor we should use...