The VOICE toolkit has gone live following two years of developing the e-democracy project. This online facility brings together neighbourhoods, community groups, parish and town councils, and elected members. All the users will be able to network with each other and raise the issues that matter to them. This might be housing or the problems that confront people just beyond their doorstep such as graffiti, litter, and other types of antisocial behaviour.VOICE will give communities of interest or communities based on locality, the toolkit that can transform the way central and local government communicate and do business with them. Communities can have online discussions, share events, flag up activities, swap files and photos. Other possibilities include groups taking part creating their own free websites.
For a limited period the Local eDemocracy National Project is offering a subsidy of 3,000 pounds for any local authority who is able to commit to buying online petition software within the next few months. E-petitions offer a simple way of improving an existing constitutional process by taking it online. Online petitions not only provide campaigners with the opportunity to reach a wider audience with their issues, but also allow for the council to be able to take on board opposition as well as support for the issue.
The launch of VOICE has been complemented by the creation of a Centre of Excellence for Local eDemocracy. The Centre will take forward eDemocracy work and investigate the best way of delivering a comprehensive suite of products designed to meet the needs of local councils and citizens.