TOGETHER: citizen engagement in councils across Europe

URBACT

By URBACT, on April 3rd, 2012

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The sun shone brightly; the sky was blue. Good weather makes a difference to most towns and this was certainly the case with Braine l’Alleud, the Belgian municipality just 20 kilometres south of Brussels where the TOGETHER partnership held its 5th joint meeting at the end of March.

The project is exploring new ways of promoting citizen engagement in councils across Europe. Having developed a method of finding out people’s opinions through a series of focus groups and discussions, each city is now undertaking a number of pilot actions which test out both new ways of engaging citizens and which require new ways of working by councils. From the night patrol scheme being undertaken in Botkyrka in Sweden to the new types of ways of involving people in their own health care in Kavala in Greece, the partnership heard and discussed the progress being made, while at the same time we saw first hand some of the citizen engagement initiatives with children and young people taking place in Braine l’Alleud.

A lively discussed sprang up on how to engage young people. Dennis emphasised the need to link this to issues relevant to the lives of young people and the need for  public authorities to give up some power to young people. Sebastien said that we need to undertake pilot actions that follow from the issues raised in the focus groups. Clara and Dennis pursued the discussion further while the Lead expert commented that this is a huge issue across Europe and that helping youth to develop themselves is a key element of any solution.

That gives a very brief flavour of the discussion. Over the next 6 months the partners shall be developing their Co-responsibility Local Action Plans which will indicate how they intend to spread the culture of co-responsibility across their municipalities. They should make for interesting reading.

Jon Bloomfield,

TOGETHER Lead Expert

j.bloomfield@bham.ac.uk

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