I will be attending (and presenting) at the International eParticipation and Local Democracy Symposium on 28/29 February. I will be joining Diane Downey (Assistant Corporate Head of ICT – Delivery, Sunderland City Council), Richard Wilson (MD of Involve) and Matt Rhodes (Head of Research, FreshNetworks) in a joint session entitled “Citizen Empowerment: Where do we begin?” Full agenda here Symposium Agenda. I’m anticipating (nay – hoping) the session will stimulate some discussion on the apparent dichotomy between empowering citizens to engage with central and local government whilst at the same time disenfranchising citizens through lack of consultation prior to the introduction of bi-laws and regulations. The proposed increase to congestion charges in London is a typical example (and I have no hidden agenda here, since I neither live in or use a car to commute to London).I will also touch on the success of the communities of practice in local government as an example of how staff working in local councils are empowering themselves to improve services – quite often without the knowledge or understanding of their respective Chief Executives!It should be an interesting couple of days.
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