Headlines: March 1st, 2006

The relationship between local authorities and communities and groups involved in grass roots campaigns is to be examined at a conference in Bristol next week which will look at whether or not councils should encourage such campaigns or if by doing so they simply create sticks with which they can be beaten.The event, organised by the e-Democracy team at Bristol City Council will attempt to answer that question and will debate other issues surrounding dialogue between local authorities and communities. Interactive voting will be used at the beginning and end of the conference to see if their views have been changed by what they hear.

The “Activists and Authorities” conference will be chaired by Professor Stephen Coleman from Leeds University and will include presentations by Steven Clift of Democracies Online, Jamie Rose, the Head of the Participation Unit at MORI, Matthew Pike, Executive Director of the Scarman Trust and Paul Slater from the Community Empowerment Network in Birmingham.

The conference will see the national launch of CampaignCreator, an online toolkit that encourages community campaigning and allows users to create their own campaign websites, produce posters and manage mailing lists. The scheme, which is available free, has been piloted in Bristol, where 160 people and groups have registered in the first three months.

“Activists and Authorities” will take place on March 10th and is open to representatives from the community and public sectors as well as government. It is free of charge to delegates who can register at www.communitycampaigning.org.   More information on CampaignCreator is available at www.campaigncreator.org