what we’ve been reading today

Localism Bill to hand pay power to full council with £100,000 vote – Eric Pickles suggested today on Radio 4 that locally elected councillors should all have to vote on decisions about whether they want to pay staff salaries over £100,000. This, he said, will ‘democracy-proof’ top local government jobs.

The LGC reports that Mr. Pickles’ words have been met with some anger and ConservativeHome reports on the LGAs opposition to acouncillor veto on Town Hall pay’.

Democratic Digital Engagement – A Blueprint for Local Government? – Carl Whistlecraft (@Gr8governance) and Dave McKenna (@Localopolis) have produced a wonderful piece that attempts to put some reality in to the sometimes utopian debate around digital local democracy. The piece highlights that reshaping need not be as complex as it may first appear, digital democracy is just taking the traditional ways of doing things and adding online dimensions that help  them ‘to work better and reach more people’.

LGiU’s Big Society learning network identifies the core issues councils face – Away from the glare of the mainstream media, the LGiU has been running a Big Society learning network that aims to support councils in thinking through how the idea works in practise.

Delegates concluded that two approaches can work together – particularly by taking a ‘merged’ approach to the two agendas where the Big Society are brought into Community Budgeting and a more strategic approach is taken to planning Big Society initiatives. However, they also recognised that there are a series of issues that councils will need to address, such as the culture of councils, skills and capacity and structures for decision making in order to make this happen. These are issues that we will continue to work-through with councils.

Julian Dobson (@juliandobson) has also written a very interesting blog on the Our Society platform – an independent network of people who want to create new links and share learning and experiences.

Assessing communities – Paul Bradshaw (@paulbradshaw) is perhaps the most creative and forward-thinking journalism teacher in the UK. As the fourth estate (theoretically) exists to serve the public interest, Paul’s thoughts on reporter / community relationships are highly relevant especially to councillors interested in building more online activity. I highly recommend reading the section titled Common misunderstandings about community.