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PUBLIC INTEREST IN LOCAL POLITICS NEEDS REVIVING

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Councils need to be far more creative to re-engage the public in local politics....
Councils need to be far more creative to re-engage the public in local politics.

That is the interim finding of the Power Inquiry, funded by the Rowntree Trust, which released its Beyond the Ballot report today.

According to the report, programmes to encourage democratic participation tend to be poorly executed and under-resourced while the public sees little evidence that its involvement in local politics makes a difference.

It recommended measures which chime with government thinking on neighbourhood governance to stimulate political participation: neighbourhood residents determining budget priorities; a citizens' assembly where a randomly selected forum makes policy decisions; or referendums.

Inquiry chair Helena Kennedy QC said: 'For all the political rhetoric about prioritising public participation, the report clearly shows public authorities lack the will, resources and freedom to embrace democratic freedom.'

The inquiry said measures such as postal voting and e-voting were insufficient to stop the decline in local democracy.

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