Mark Potts writes

Salisbury Democracy Alliance ran this event in May 2023 with the local network of the Royal Society of Arts. Participants included two Labour
councillors, along with the only Independent councillor.

How it worked
Participants were allocated to groups of 5/6 persons. Each group had a facilitator. The organisers had chosen the 24 cards out of the original 60 that were most relevant to Salisbury. A set of these cards was dealt out to the group participants. On each card there was an idea for engaging citizens in decision making that had been adopted by a community in some part of the world. Participants were asked to read through these ideas and consider whether they might work in Salisbury. The facilitator then led discussion around these ideas, and any other ideas that the participants had, with the aim of summarising the three main ideas that the participants wanted to share with the wider group.

Three themes emerged:

  • Group 1 – The need for greater involvement of those who are hard to reach and do not usually have a voice through random selection processes and mechanisms like citizens juries.
  • Group 2 – Using the Arts as a way of engaging local people in decision making through for example, plays portraying everyday life which can be re-scripted.
  • Group 3 – Participatory budgeting where citizens have more of a say on how the council’s money is spent

The three themes were further explored in a second round of discussion. For each theme, follow-up meetings have been, or will be, arranged.

Local authorities engage in two forms of citizen involvement. They have the acronyms DAD and EDD.  DAD stands for Decide, Announce, and Defend. EDD by contrast stands for Engage, Deliberate and Decide. You may be able to guess which acronym Salisbury Democracy Alliance prefers!

Salisbury Democracy Alliance
Talk Shop’s New Local Politics discussion kit is explained here and can be downloaded here