Like many, I’ve been inspired by attending the local democracy conference in Huddersfield.
For various reasons I haven’t ventured out of Bucks and County Hall for possibly a good couple of years (for work that is!). Having worked in Westminster I overdosed on networking and conferences and realised that often they cost a fortune and I learnt very little.
This event intrigued me however. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m passionate about democracy and here was an event about everything I care about and it was free!
The whole thing really was a world away from Westminster. I loved the mix of people from officers, councillors to community activists which led to some interesting exchanges of views.
I took a lot of ideas away and a list of practical actions, but also something much more important. It reinvigorated my view that a council democratic services function should and can be much more than providing support to council committees (whilst this is of course very important). It needs to be a service with a mission to champion local democracy, helping connect residents with elected members, as well as members with residents.
With the pressures of income generation, workload and processes it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal.
Well done to Kirklees Council for taking the lead in proudly advocating for a visionary and ambitious mission to promote local democracy.