LocalGovCamp is the unconference run by local government, for local government. I was part of a team of volunteers that helped put it together in 2017, and it was great to see six months planning culminate over two days and one night. I plan to write something about Fringe Friday later, but this piece is about the main event on Saturday.
I learn a lot every year, but yesterday felt a bit different.
The start of a productive day came via my first session entitled "Help, I’m an elected member", hosted by a cabinet member from a welsh local authority, asking for help and advice. I’ve run a session like this in the past, and if the discussion is well facilitated (as yesterday’s was) it can be infinitely better than being talked at, or a death by a hundred slides type presentation. Both the host and the participants learn something, as I did yesterday.
We need more councilors at LocalGovCamp, and this was a step in the right direction, seeing another elected member not only attend, but lead a session.
Perhaps the most positive session I went to was "What are the user needs for LocalGov Digital". People in the room included:
- Officers from various councils
- An officer from the Greater London Authority
- Freelancers who work with councils
- People from SMEs that work with councils
- Someone from a large IT supplier that works with many councils
- Someone from the Local Government Association (who’s also a council leader)
- Someone from the Government Digital Service
- Someone from the Public Service Transformation Academy
and those were just the people I know about. It became clear that the majority (most of whom had given up their own time to be there) had a common aim, to improve local public sector service delivery. That’s about as close as you’ll get to a local government coalition of the willing with a simple, common statement of intent, together on a rainy autumn afternoon in Bristol.
What must happen now is to turn words into actions.
Yes, keep the conversations going, they’re important, but focus on deliverable outcomes. To this end, LocalGov Digital be will improving our communication, re-booting our Steering Group, and defining deliverables for 2018, perhaps seeking funding to achieve them.
In 2018 we hope to think, do and share among a wider group of people, and if you’d like to help to create better, cheaper public services, we’d love you to get involved.