e-Petitioner for English Local Authorities

01/04/2004 - 31/03/2005

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Local eDemocracy National Project (March 2004 to March 2005) investigated new channels of participation and piloted various approaches to encourage citizen participation and help elected representatives work more effectively. (More about the ODPM's National Project)

As part of this project, the International Teledemocracy Centre (ITC)  worked with the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and Bristol City Council to investigate how local authorities could support active participation through e-petitioning. The ITC’s e-petitioner system was adapted to the two councils’ processes and to the look and feel of their websites as a pilot tool for a study of e-engagement. 

The ITC study was based on two fundamental premises. The first is the philosophical belief and political will that people in local communities should play a more active part in petitioning local government; and the second is that e-petitioner offers new potential to widen the public's engagement with local government and supports the opportunity for bottom-up ideas to influence the policy agenda.

Our evaluation used a combination of interviews, field tests and e-petition results to develop an understanding of how citizens and stakeholders perceive e-petitioning. Analysis of these also provided feedback to local authorities on how to use e-petitioning more effectively.

E-petitioner was used by hundreds of citizens in each Council area, and showed early signs of impacting on decision-making. The main strengths lay in the area of political support, improved transparency of decision-making, and convenience and choice for citizens. There was evidence that e-petitioning reinforces ‘civic mindedness’, appealing to people who believe that community action can influence decision-making but have not previously taken such action themselves. Improvements were sought in the integration of e-petitioning and paper petitioning, and the latter was thought more suitable for highly localised issues.

Both councils chose to use E-petitioner beyond the period of the evaluation, amending it in the light of experience. Bristol maintained a particularly close relationship with ITC, working with ITC on amendments and having the system hosted on the ITC server. Bristol moved to using a new system in January 2008. The Royal Borough of Kingston took full responsibility for their e-petitioner system after the pilot period.

In 2009, we continued our work on ePetitions and our partnership with Bristol in the EuroPetition project.
More about the e-Petitioner for English Local Authorities pilot.
Summary of all our ePetitions work
e-Petitioner for English Local Authorities is a Research - Other Sources project funded by Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. Carried out in collaboration with Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and others. For further information please refer to http://itc.napier.ac.uk/ITC/ProjectInfo.asp?ID=6.
 
[Read More]

Related Projects

  • Informing the Good Society (InGSoc): New Directions in Information Policy
    InGSoc (Informing the Good Society: New Directions in Information Policy) is a three-year project, funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council standard grant. The project, whose common thread is the social impact of information and technology and relevant public policy issues, has three...
  • ESRC Information Science pathway
    The ESRC Information Science Pathway is one of 24 accredited training pathways within the Scottish ESRC Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS). This is part of a £20 million investment in the UK's largest DTC, which awards 65 studentships to...
  • digiCC workshops
    A programme of four workshops on making the most of the internet for Community Councillors, funded by the Scottish Government. This follows on from the successful workshop we held in January The primary purpose of this programme is to extend networking, problem elucidation and solving opportunities...
  • KTP - Payfont
    To create the ability in Payfont to research and deliver, using Universal Design principles and processes based on BS8878, the optimal secure user experience (UX) in secure transactions
  • Information Literacy for Democratic Engagement (IL-DEM)
    The findings of this research will contribute to strategies to improve citizen engagement in the democratic process at community level. Its main aims are: 1. To evaluate how Community Councillors (1) access and understand information on their duties and rights; (2) keep up to date with local...
next prev

Collaborators link icon

next prev

Project Team

Professor Ann Macintosh
(not currently an institute member)

Associated Publications

Macintosh, A., Whyte, A. (2006). Evaluating how eParticipation changes local democracy. In: Irani, Z., Ghoneim, A. (Eds.) Proceedings of the eGovernment Workshop 2006, , () ( ed.). (pp. ). : . .