It was produced following the fourth in a series of special seminars entitled ‘Engaging Citizens’, organised by the ESRC in collaboration with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
Among a number issues covered by the publication, it queries how open the new governance mechanisms are for local involvement and examines voluntary and community organisations’ readiness to respond, particularly in ‘hard-to-reach’ populations. In addition, it points out that policymakers have added a number of governance mechanisms and structures to encourage engagement – without stopping to consider how they each relate to one another, or the complexity that this presents to the public.
The booklet draws on presentations given at a seminar today by two experts in the field, Marilyn Taylor, Professor of Urban Governance and Regeneration, at the University of the West of England and Stuart Wilks-Heeg, Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Liverpool. Their research indicates that many representatives from voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) still feel that, despite the changes, they are on the margins of the new governance spaces and, from a study of two specific towns in the north of England, only a small minority of residents feel that they are able to influence local decisions.
Professor Taylor points out that although the developments offer new opportunities for engaging in local decision-making and for influencing public service provision, they also present challenges for voluntary and community organisations that do participate, especially those which have had little involvement in partnerships before.
To illustrate this, she says, “All partners need to recognise the demands on community representatives – they may want to be accountable back to their community but often don’t have the resources or time to do this effectively.”
There is also a difficult balance to be struck between the leadership that is required for communities to be effective operators in partnership and the need to spread engagement more widely. She highlights the importance of VCOs maintaining their independent voice if partnerships are to benefit from the distinctive experience that they can bring and for them to realise their potential.
Extensive in-depth research into the state of local democracy in two contrasting northern towns, Burnley and Harrogate, carried out by Doctor Wilks-Heeg and a colleague, revealed that over 30 different organisations, many of them ‘quangos’ with no elected community representatives, have some role in governing the two towns.
He said, “Overall, the elected local authorities control 53 per cent of public spending in Harrogate and, in Burnley, only 40 per cent. However, when it comes to the district councils it’s even lower. Only five per cent of public spending is controlled by each of these two councils, yet we found that the public and media concentrate on ‘the council’, while paying little attention to the much higher spending services.”
Annika Howard | alfa
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University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
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Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
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