It would be impossible for me to comment on democratic and governance matters this week without reflecting on the change in Prime Minister. The change has been dramatic, in some ways more dramatic than if there had been a change in political party. Many of us will have experienced political change at the top of our organisations, and having the skills to adapt rapidly is something that we have had to learn. Senior civil servants will be adapting every day as this new government seeks to implement rapid and significant change. We will have to wait and see how this impacts directly or indirectly on DSOs up and down the country, but it is clear that change will be coming. It may well energise some of our councillors to be even more dynamic especially after the conference season which will also be at the same time as the final countdown to Brexit! So a time for us all to be on our toes.
Parliament is, of course, in recess now which is something that we don’t really experience on the same scale. Things do slow down and the numbers of meetings reduce but planning cycles for most DSOs continue throughout August. A little bit of time to collect our thoughts and play catch up.
At the ADSO Board meeting on 12 July we received a presentation from Mike Bridges of the Cabinet Office Democratic Engagement Team. Whilst their drive is mostly to do with increasing voter registration especially for hard to reach groups, they clearly share with us a commitment to democracy and accountability. He has followed this up with an invitation to attend their Voices in Our Democracy Speaker Series. They recognise our shared responsibility to inspire participation and tackle democratic exclusion amongst under-registered groups. The aim of these free, interactive seminars is to broaden existing knowledge on democratic engagement with research from academic experts. They are open to anyone with an interest in widening democratic participation but are particularly suitable for civil society organisations and local authorities.
They have two highly distinguished academics confirmed to speak. The full details of these events are included in the event registration links below:
Friday 16 August 10.30am-12.30pm, with Professor John Curtice, University of Strathclyde, at the Cabinet Office, London
Friday 27 September 10.30am-12.30pm with Dr Alistair Clark, University of Newcastle at Cabinet Office, London
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Mike Bridges email@example.com.
ADSO is becoming one of the bodies that government and partners consult on emerging democratic and governance issues. It is very much part of our vision to extend and improve that influence. If ADSO members have issues that they think would benefit from lobbying we would very much like to hear of them so that we can consider the issue and approach the respective department or minister. Other bodies, such as the LGA, CfPS and so on will also be consulted, but the fact remains that the perspective of DSOs and other governance professionals may well be slightly different and should be independently represented. We are very keen to make such representations.
Have a good recess!