What is it that local councillors do when they go about their work? How do officers understand their role and engage within and beyond the council? How do communities connect with local councils and interact with councillors and officers?
A better understanding of these questions provides us with the necessary grasp of the everyday practices of local politics with which to formulate alternative visions for the future. Through contributing to current debates over the future of local democracy, a new report for the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) draws attention to what it takes to do local politics, and to the everyday practices of local decision-making.
This new research for APSE Scotland focuses on the three worlds of local politics – that of the engaged citizen, the council officer, and the councillor – and is interested in exploring what it takes to do politics in each of these worlds. Each entail different kinds of political work, which is undertaken on different terms and conditions. However, it is clear that each world works and makes sense only in relation to the others.
By exploring the worlds of the councillor, officer, and the citizen, we can see how they intersect, support, and affect one another. The report makes six recommendations based on its conclusions that aim to reinforce the stewardship capabilities of local politics in Scotland.