A seminar on The Right to be Heard, organised by the Institute of Development Studies and chaired by the Forum prompted Jim Simpson, a local community development consultant to examine the role of local people in public decision making.
Public sector reform, neighbourhood renewal, patient choice and consultation on place making are examples of public sector initiatives that have at their heart the big question of who decides?
Volunteers, community activists and community groups keep society thriving and flourishing side by side with the public sector. Though communities and citizens are frequently consulted they are less often involved in real decisionmaking.
Traditional practice says elected politicians decide and public servants deliver. Citizens, residents or service users taking part in decisions about what kinds of services are provided, what budgets are spent and how local problems are solved is at the centre of the ‘new democracy’ agenda.