ODPM in PR drive to engage communities online

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has launched a six-month PR drive to promote its local e-democracy project.

Upward Curve PR, whose PR director is Helen Ashley, has been appointed to handle the campaign following a three-way pitch. The drive is designed to encourage all 388 local authorities in England and Wales to adopt the project, which encourages residents to engage in local community issues.

The best-practice initiative demonstrates how technology can aid public involvement in public service decision-making and helps councils assess residents’ needs more accurately.

Local e-democracy projects include online public consultation, petitioning and contact with local councillors. Local authorities are required to make essential services available online by March 2005.

The campaign kicked off this week with fringe events at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.

The e-democracy project has 40 strands, with different councils piloting each one. The strands, designed to target young people, include an online surgery between young people and councillors being piloted by Kingston Council.

Upward Curve account manager Clare Austen said: ‘Key to the success of the project is communicating its advantages to councils, elected representatives, citizens and communities.

‘Local government is keen to include hard-to-reach groups such as young people, ethnic minorities and those with disabilities.’

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