“Audit should be citizen led” – that grey area for “Devolution plc” again

As the article points out, devolution comes with dangers:

” … There is a risk that moves towards greater decentralisation of power to newly empowered spaces – institutions of local government – simply replicate on a smaller scale the weaknesses of the national system. With the focus on new models of governance – directly elected mayors and combined authorities – crafted to suit the accountability requirements of Whitehall, it is important that new opportunities to strengthen accountability of decisions to the public space are not missed.

At core, the challenge for democratic institutions is to blur the boundaries between the governed and the government, creating more space for the former to engage with the latter while ensuring equity of participation and access. In practice at a local level there are more opportunities for this interaction – not simply due to proximity enabling direct engagement but because shared space in communities creates a focus for deliberation. There are already examples of local authorities pioneering new approaches, such as Oldham’s Co-operative Borough (as opposed to council), which involves developing the community leadership skills of elected members. The devolution of the entire health budget to Greater Manchester will be an interesting chance to consider how aligning health resource and decision-making more effectively across a place can create greater individual engagement in healthy choices and outcomes. …”

http://www.democraticaudit.com/?p=17071

One thought on ““Audit should be citizen led” – that grey area for “Devolution plc” again

  1. For me a few things stand out from the Democratic Audit article:

    A. Why can’t EDDC be more like Oldham Borough Council whose Co-operative Neighbourhood model based on ” citizen-led services, with ward members playing a crucial role to:

    • Reconnect the Council to its residents
    • Create social value for residents and communities
    • Enhance the independence, capability and resilience of individuals
    • Unlock the resource and potential in neighbourhoods
    • Support existing social networks and build collective community capacity
    • Ultimately, reduce demand on the public purse”

    B. The article has a link to the full report (or summary http://www.involve.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Room-for-a-View-summary.pdf ) which lists some metrics of democratic health (paraphrased and related to local government):

    1. Vibrancy of public debate on issues (by residents and the press)
    2. Vibrancy of council debate
    3. How much the council listens to residents
    4. The accountability of the council for its decisions
    5. Whether issues are discussed as part of day-to-day living at home and at work
    6. Whether councils have mechanisms for real self-analysis (i.e. a vibrant Scrutiny function)
    7. A vision about how the council can serve the community and improve the lives of residents and proactive execution of the vision rather than simply doing the minimum required to meet the legal obligations.

    It would be interesting to see how well East Devon District Council and Devon County Council fare when measured against these metrics and compared to more visionary councils like Oldham Borough.

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