Digital engagement for Community Councils workshop – Ayr

I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow’s event, in County Buildings in Ayr. We have designed this event, and similar events in Moray, Angus and Scottish Borders, to explore two main questions

  • What are the major problems around CC digital engagement?
  • How can CCs best use the internet?

Before I go on, I should stop to thank the Scottish Government for funding these events, and the Improvement Service, the Democratic Society and the host Local Authorities for their support of these events.

In these questions, ‘CC’ stands for ‘Community Councils and Registered Tenant Organisations’. The events’ sponsor, the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Unit, has asked us to include RTOs as well as CCs. I know almost nothing about RTOs but I have worked with one, creating its wordpress.com-based website. If this RTO is typical, they are in the same boat as CCs – struggling to find and develop any internet expertise.

There will also an introduction by South Ayrshire Council’s head of communities, and short talks by

  • the Scottish Government, on Community Empowerment
  • the Improvement Service, on Digital Resources for Community Councillors
  • the organisers of Chewin’ the Fat on 
CC members engaging on Facebook
  • the Democratic Society, on Digital tools for Community Councils

These will be followed by a session devoted to topics raised by the delegates, and a final all-delegate discussion. I don’t know what those will cover – delegates will make suggestions during the morning. But for me, encountering the unexpected and finding out new things is part of the joy of being a researcher!

We will report on the events via the KnowledgeHub Group for Community Councillors, so watch that space. (I will blog a little about it here, but all the action will be on the KHub.) We’ll publish everything that can be put online, along with analyses and concise reports. CC and RTO members will be welcome to comment on these, and so help ensure they reflect experiences from as many CCs and RTOs as possible. The truth is out there, and I want these events’ outcomes to be a mirror to that truth, and an enabler of improvement.

Allied to this, I’m (slowly) working on some feedback to the recent Fairer Scotland event, and will soon do some analysis of the most up-to-date data on CC website, Facebook and Twitter use. (Thanks to the Improvement Service for gathering the raw data.)

So there’s lots of work going on, all about understanding and bolstering Scotland’s very own forms of hyperlocal democracy. As one of the speakers puts it, ‘Democracy never sleeps!’

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