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."
Amanda Williams | EurekAlert!
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
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