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European Local Democracy Week – October 2016

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How much trust would you place in local democracy?

Last week, councils across the UK celebrated the ninth European Local Democracy Week (ELDW). A week dedicated to engaging with future electors, introducing constituents to what can sometimes be considered complex democratic processes and opening local spaces such as town halls for interaction with local visitors. ELDW is a Council of Europe (CoE) led initiative to foster citizen participation particularly at grassroots level. This year’s theme focused on culturally diverse societies and fostering respect, dialogue and interaction.

In a similar vein to CoE Congress activities, Cratus too recognises that local authorities are best placed to address the challenges within their diverse populations. Citizen participation is essential for successful local policies. No one would argue against this kind of participation which contributes to a more accountable, transparent and legitimate local government.

Local self-governance is also a milestone of modern democratic society. In the recent Eurobarometer surveys released to coincide with #ELDW, over the last eight years, trust in local government fell by an average of 4% in 18 of the European countries surveyed. Countries like Italy, Spain and Greece average an approximate figure of 22% of citizens with trust in local government proceedings. On the contrary, trust in local authorities was highest in Luxembourg, at 69%.

Great Britain continues to score strongly in the results. UK citizen’s trust in local and regional authorities has grown by 6% between 2008 and 2016. Some 53% of those surveyed in the UK expressed trust in the mechanism of local democracy. Here at Cratus, we’re not surprised by the improved trust the public has in our local authorities but we also know more could be done to improve opinion and perceptions within local communities.

We have always recognised the importance of decision-making at the local level and the significance of engaging partners in the earliest stages of project work. We encourage any company with an interest in running local public services to get in touch with us to discuss how we can help you navigate and nurture citizen participation and consensus with local councils in conjunction with the ELDW’s 2016 goals of respect, dialogue and interaction.

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