To Participation and Beyond?: Developing E-Democracy in Bristol, UK

To Participation and Beyond?: Developing E-Democracy in Bristol, UK

Paul Burton (Griffith University, Australia) and Stephen Hilton (Bristol City Council, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9461-3.ch083
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This chapter provides a case study of local developments in e-democracy in the city of Bristol, UK. Although some of these developments relate to periodic local elections, most are concerned with supporting new forms of engagement between local citizens and local government institutions and processes in the times between these. Starting with the coordination of its own consultation activities, then encouraging greater participation in council-run activities, and finally supporting grass roots engagement activities, Bristol City Council embarked on a local program of e-democracy activities from 2000 onwards. This grew into a national pilot scheme that enabled a number of valuable comparative evaluations of e-democracy in practice. The chapter draws on the results of a number of evaluations of these local and national developments and highlights the more widespread and enduring challenges of trying to broaden the scope and the effectiveness of local democracy and improve the practices of social inclusion.
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Background To E-Democracy In Bristol, Uk

In 2000, the City of Bristol council responded to growing local concerns about declining political engagement by establishing the independent Bristol Democracy Commission with a brief, inter alia, to review the state of local democracy and to make recommendations for how this could be reinvigorated. The Commission comprised twelve local residents with a variety of experience who gathered evidence from a number of sources over the course of a year and then developed responses to some of the local challenges of political engagement. In the context of this chapter, it is worth noting that apart from an online survey the work of the Commission relied on mainly traditional forms of data collection and engagement.

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