Open policymaking: Should there be a ‘duty to involve’ for national policy?

As Edward Andersson from Involve noted in his recent blog reviewing the new consultation principles issued by government: “Today consultation has, for many citizens, become a byword for formalistic, tick box exercises, done to mask a decision which is already a ‘done deal’.” Edward rightly suggested that the new principles, while important, fall short of providing the solution to this widely shared view of consultation. Could one solution be a national ‘duty to involve’, similar to the requirement that some local public services are already subject to? In which case, national policymakers should look to their local counterparts for what works.

This post is part of the project on open policymaking and better consultation, hosted by the Democratic Society in association with the Cabinet Office. As Anthony Zacharzewski, head of DemSoc, has summarised it: “Open policymaking is the natural corollary of open data and transparency, requiring openness and allowing public participation at every stage of decision-making and implementation. It supports citizen action and positive involvement of the public in shaping laws and services.” This active engagement is obviously very different in scope and ambition to traditional consultation, but this doesn’t mean we’re starting from scratch. If, as the Government has said, in the future “all policies will be made openly”, we could learn from where there have already been attempts to achieve a different, more deliberative approach to decision-making – in local government and local public services.

Many of these local duties to involve citizens have been introduced through national policy. For example, Section 138 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 imposed a duty on all councils and ‘best value’ authorities to involve ‘local representatives’ when carrying out functions by providing information, consulting or ‘involving in another way’. Councils must engage with a balanced selection of the individuals, groups, businesses or organisations the council considers likely to be affected by, or have an interest in, the council’s functions (including children and young people as appropriate). For the National Health Service, legislation which came into force in 2003 placed a duty on certain organisations to involve and consult, but managers were not always clear when they had to involve people or how it was best to do this. The 2007 act aimed to make this clearer; the duty requires NHS organisations to involve users of services in the planning and provision of services, the development and consideration of proposals for changes in the way services are provided, and decisions affecting the operation of services. Section 242 of the earlier consolidated NHS Act 2006 was also supported by useful guidance on achieving ‘Real Involvement‘ from service users and communities.

The NHS’s operating framework further emphasised that this engagement should be ongoing, not just during periods of change. Primary Care Trusts and NHS providers should “…create greater opportunities for their communities to make their voices heard, raising awareness of those opportunities and empowering patients and the public to use them and LINks [Local Involvement Networks]; [and] take greater responsibility for communicating with their local populations and stakeholders to ensure better understanding of, and confidence in, local NHS services.” More recently, the NHS constitution underlines that public and user involvement should be part of the fabric of the NHS: “You have the right to be involved, directly or through representatives, in the planning of healthcare services, the development and consideration of proposals for changes in the way those services are provided, and in decisions to be made affecting the operation of those services.”

The reality of local engagement might only rarely meet these ambitions, and many local policymakers, managers and clinicians might question the extent to which the public can play a constructive part in decisions on reconfiguring clinical services. Views on the success of local LINks vary widely, and they are due to be replaced by Local Healthwatch organisations in April 2013 as part of the ‘new NHS’. But this gap between aspiration and reality may be more a matter of developing and using the right methods for engagement – and being seen by local communities to be making genuine efforts at this engagement – rather than a fundamental problem with the aspiration itself (these are after all public services, paid for by the public, and they should surely be accountable as such).

Organisations such as Involve (a partner in this discussion) have a wealth of experience about what works locally (Edward referenced some very useful resources in his blog) – surely some of these principles and practices could not only be better shared locally, but applied to national policy as well? As we’ve noted before, one of the reasons that the Government’s NHS reforms ran into such difficulty was the view held by stakeholders that the policy was developed in a fundamentally closed way rather than constructively and collaboratively. The Government says that empowering individual patients and increasing the local accountability of health services is at the core of its reforms; shouldn’t we apply the same principles of empowerment and accountability to the development of health policy as well as the operation of health services – and to any policy for that matter?

The Government’s Civil Service Reform Plan, where its committment to open policy was announced, makes no reference to existing local methods of engagement and how these could inform open policymaking at a national level. Nonetheless, national policymakers should look to the methods that have been used by local policymakers and planners to engage their communities and service users in decision-making – both the successes and the failures – and consider how the most effective approaches could be adopted and adapted for national policy. Open policy is an ambitious agenda. Making it real will require effective methods for engagement, but also ways of requiring that policymakers develop policy openly. As well as learning from local methods of engagement, do we need an equivalent national ‘duty to involve’ stakeholders in policy development?


How outsourcing can reduce real choices for people using services

In recent posts we’ve been exploring the tensions between two competing Government agendas – for so-called ‘open public services’ and ‘open policy-making’. Choice is supposed to be a central part of the Government’s agenda to open up public services to greater competition in order to improve outcomes, quality and efficiency. In this post we explore three ways in which outsourcing can actually reduce real choices for people using public services.

You might have missed it, but in June the Cabinet Office announced an independent review led by David Boyle into the barriers to choice in public services. The review is looking to address the factors that prevent people from understanding and exercising the choices available to them in a range of public services. But the review does not address another pertinent question: how ‘open public services’, especially outsourcing, can reduce real choices for the public.

Firstly, there is no getting away from the impact of the cuts, which are creating poor choices for users of public services. For example, local councils are due to make cuts of about £2 billion to adult social care budgets between 2011-13, with £890 million coming out this year alone as part of the Government’s deficit reduction programme. Outsourcing services to non-public sector providers is seen as the main way to reduce costs.

Take this example: domiciliary care services (care in the home), much of which is outsourced, is one area that has borne the brunt of cuts. Hourly rates for dom care have dropped in some parts of the country to as low as £10-12 per hour. From a provider point of view, the only way to make these contracts work financially is to increase the volume of customers and reduce costs. Given that the majority of cost is staff time, this means becoming a minimum wage employer and reducing staff terms and conditions – a move that many charities and private sector providers are (being forced into) making. It also means cutting the time allocated for care visits to under 30 minutes and sometimes to less than 15 minutes.

Rationing of social care has also meant the things that people want to choose – for example social contact or help with domestic duties such as housework, shopping and gardening – are not available unless they can afford to pay from their savings. According to Age UK 33% of older people report feeling lonely, with this figure increasing to half for those aged over 80. It’s obvious that a 15 minute visit doesn’t leave time for a conversation.

Outsourcing based on price is bound to affect quality. A review into choice and competition in public services by the OFT found that competition based on price alone is likely to lead to a deterioration of quality. This is backed up by the results from a survey conducted by the National Care Forum of 40 social care providers this week, which showed that the social care workforce is rapidly ageing, and that there has been a hike in staff turnover rates. Given the unsociable hours and low pay, social care does not tend to be an attractive career option for young people. 46% of care staff are aged 46 or over, whilst turnover rates for domiciliary care for older people has climbed to almost 28%.

Secondly, information about services available is fragmented. It is well documented that advocacy, information and advice services are withering on the vine as a result of the cuts. Yet good quality information and advocacy support are integral to supporting choice. Information about providers is hard to find with services such as Find Me Good Care, Shop4Support and the Good Care Guide in their infancy. The Government has been reluctant to invest in services such as these – the Social Care Institute for Excellence has invested their reserves into Find Me Good Care instead. Providers have also been agnostic about these services as many of them find business through word of mouth or local authority referrals. Yet without adequate market information, real choice for service users will be undermined.

The views of service users are not always well understood or captured by services. Take another sector as an example: 11,000 pupils are placed in out of authority special schools at an annual cost of £572 million. A review of this market by the Audit Commission found that young people were rarely asked for their opinions or offered choices. Instead, choices are made by parents and professionals, not the young person themselves. Many young people want to be placed nearer to their family but the concerns of their parents tend to take precedence.

Thirdly, the ‘bigger is better’ approach to outsourcing is reducing real choices for people. The outsourced public services market is maturing around a group of large providers who are increasingly too big to fail. The Government is ever more reliant on providers such as Capita, Atos, A4e, Serco and G4S, who alone have the scale and funds to absorb the risks associated with this ‘bigger is better’ approach to outsourcing. A4e now delivers services across welfare to work, adult social care, information and advice and offender management. The dominance of these providers crowds out small charities and providers who cannot compete on a level playing field, which again reduces choice for service users but also commissioners of services.

Choice is nothing new of course; successive governments have embraced it as a way to improve performance across a range of public services, and in one sense the current Government under its open public services agenda is only continuing this trend. But after nearly 30 years of promises of increased choice – often to be achieved through increasing amounts of outsourcing – many of the actual choices available to the public seem less and less appealing. The one choice we don’t seem to be being offered is the political choice to challenge this agenda – for the users of services and the professionals who deliver these services not to be subject to imposed ‘choice’, but rather for them to be able to determine together how services can be improved and for policy wonks to get out of their way. Perhaps the Cabinet Office could add this type of choice to its review, if it is allowed to.


Local authorities on Twitter

This is the fifth in a series of posts on local authorities’ use of Twitter. We’ve been counting down local authorities according to the size of their following – this post reviews the results and offers up some thoughts.

As we’ve suggested here before, social media is a cheap and easy way to engage stakeholders, for think tankscentral governmenttrade bodies and directly elected mayors. We even think it could be used to open-up policy research and development, for example for local authorities to connect with their communities. So which councils appear to be using social media, in this case Twitter, the most?

We’ve looked at the corporate Twitter accounts of all 434 UK local authorities – district, county, metropolitan borough and unitary authorities. This shows that 91% of local authorities have a corporate Twitter account. Of these that don’t, Northern Ireland is disproportionally represented, with 15 authorities out of the 39 not having a Twitter account. The 91% figure represents a significant expansion of local authorities’ use of Twitter since 2009 (at that time, a study by LGEO Research showed that only 124 councils were using Twitter, now this has grown to 395 authorities).The total Twitter community around councils is 941,610, whilst local government has tweeted 646,755 times.

The top ten authorities are:

No. Local authority Twitter name No. of followers No. of tweets
1 Glasgow City Council @GlasgowCC 24,016 1,765
2 Edinburgh City Council @Edinburgh_CC 13,054 2,527
3 Newcastle upon Tyne City Council @NewcastleCC 11,992 5,521
4 Belfast City Council @belfastcc 11,639 6,444
5 Manchester City Council @ManCityCouncil 11,313 2,962
6 Cardiff City Council @cardiffcouncil 10,054 4,926
7 Nottingham City Council @MyNottingham 9,374 2,694
8 Leeds City Council @leedscc 9,161 1,838
9 Brighton and Hove City Council @BrightonHoveCC 8,718 7,573
10 Kent County Council @Kent_cc 8,664 2,782

Nine of the top ten councils are large cities, with only one traditional county council represented – Kent. None of the top ten are district authorities, in fact only two appear in the top 50 – Oxford (no.25 – 5,688 followers) and Preston (no.46 – 4,747 followers). Both are large towns with populations of approximately 140,000 to 150,000. No London Boroughs appear in the top 20, although 7 appear in the top 50 with Lambeth (no.21 – 6,434 followers), Lewisham (no.28 – 5,411 followers) and Westminster (no.29 – 5,392) leading the way.

Six local authorities have more than 10,000 followers. Whilst 38 have more than 5,000 followers, representing 10% of councils. 28% of local authorities have less than 1,000 followers. So whilst this expansion has taken place, this is not universal. Our research points to both an urban connection and the use of Twitter and the number of followers.

A slight aside, we also observed the Government’s policy to rationalise back off functions in councils manifest through their social media presence.  Adur and Worthing share a joint Twitter account.  Whilst in Dorset, a number of authorities are sharing a Twitter account @dorsetforyou.

In our previous research on think tanks, we only looked at the number of followers. In this case, we also included the number of tweets sent. We didn’t analyse the quality of tweets, or separate out broadcast tweets from those that engaged in dialogue with local citizens. Nonetheless, we found that 203 local authorities have tweeted more than 1,000 times. Meanwhile, seven authorities with a Twitter account have never sent a tweet. Clearly, resourcing social media efforts matters. Walsall Council for instance has a team of five people who are named as their tweeters on their feed.

Top ten tweeters are:

No. Local authority Twitter name No. of followers No. of tweets
1 Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council @WalsallCouncil 5,214 12,949
2 St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council @sthelenscouncil 3,886 9,514
3 Sunderland City Council @SunderlandUK 8,202 7,835
4 Brighton and Hove City Council @BrightonHoveCC 8,718 7,573
5 Monmouthshire County Council @MonmouthshireCC 4,109 7,044
6 Winchester City Council @WinchesterCity 3,151 6,963
7 Stoke on Trent City Council @SoTCityCouncil 4,603 6,877
8 South Ayrshire Council @southayrshire 3,097 6,628
9 Surrey County Council @SurreyCouncil 4,534 6,585
10 Belfast City Council @belfastcc 11,639 6,444

There also seems to be a connection between activity on Twitter and the number of followers. Of the 106 councils with less than 1,000 followers, only eight have tweeted more than a 1,000 times.

Position on top Twitter list Local authority Twitter name No. of followers No. of tweets
283 Allerdale Borough Council @allerdale 997 3,785
288 Mole Valley District Council @MoleValleyDC 949 1,747
289 Bexley Council @whatsoninbexley 943 1,141
291 Copeland Borough Council @copelandbc 911 1,169
298 East Staffordshire Borough Council @eaststaffsbc 855 1,578
312 Surrey Heath Borough Council @Surreyheath 717 1.572
316 Melton Borough Council @MeltonBC 657 1,127
328 Derbyshire Dales District Council @derbyshiredales 502 1,427

We also found some interesting examples that further point to this connection between activity and presence on Twitter. Fenland District Council who were an early adopter of Twitter appears at no.65 on our list (4,234 followers) compared to neighbouring South Holland, which appears at no.389 (24 followers). South Holland and Fenland have many common similarities. Fenland and South Holland have similar population sizes (91,000 and 76,000), demographic and economic make up. The difference does seem to be connected to their investment in social media. South Holland has never tweeted whilst Fenland has tweeted over 500 times.

North Devon, Mid Devon and Torridge also offer up a further interesting comparison. All are neighbouring rural district authorities with similar population sizes ranging from 65,000 – 91,000. North Devon appears at no. 78 on our list (3,796 followers) compared to Torridge at no.373 and Mid Devon at no.377 both with less than 200 followers. North Devon has however tweeted nearly 5,000 times and has dedicated tweeters compared to 220 and 26 tweets sent by Torridge and Mid Devon.

Fenland and North Devon, both with small rural populations demonstrate the possibilities of increasing reach in a cheap and easy way using social media. Our recent blog on 5 top tips for think tanks using social media has many transferable lessons for local government.  Some lessons from this piece of research for local councils could be:

  • Actively use social media – the more active you are, the more likely you are to build a community;
  • Engage in dialogue, don’t just broadcast;
  • Promote others and not just yourself. A good local council account is a repository of a range of community information and news;
  • Social media is personal – individuals who work for local councils are critical in extending reach and impact;
  • Think without limits: social media offers up endless possibilities.

Of course, only looking at the number of tweets and number of followers on the main local authority feed doesn’t provide a broader analysis of the effective use of social media by any authority. It doesn’t take account of quality of engagement or local population size in particular – and these are factors that we could incorporate into future analysis. Even so, it still provides some indication of local authorities’ take up of social media and offers some interesting insights and lessons. Your views on the results – and what further questions and analysis should be conducted (by us or others) – are welcome.


Local authorities on Twitter – the top 100

This is the fourth in a series of posts on local authorities’ use of Twitter. We’ve been counting down local authorities according to the size of their following – this post reveals the top 100 local authorities on Twitter.

As we’ve suggested here before, social media is a cheap and easy way to engage stakeholders, for think tankscentral governmenttrade bodies and directly elected mayors. We even think it could be used to open-up policy research and development, for example for local authorities to connect with their communities. So which local authorities are seizing the opportunities of social media the most, at least according to this quick bit of research? (Let us know if we’ve got anything wrong and we’ll correct it asap). Congratulations to the top tweeters, and in the next post we’ll review the results and offer some thoughts.

No. Local authority Twitter name No. of followers No. of tweets
1 Glasgow City Council @GlasgowCC 24,016 1,765
2 Edinburgh City Council @Edinburgh_CC 13,054 2,527
3 Newcastle upon Tyne City Council @NewcastleCC 11,992 5,521
4 Belfast City Council @belfastcc 11,639 6,444
5 Manchester City Council @ManCityCouncil 11,313 2,962
6 Cardiff City Council @cardiffcouncil 10,054 4,926
7 Nottingham City Council @MyNottingham 9,374 2,694
8 Leeds City Council @leedscc 9,161 1,838
9 Brighton and Hove City Council @BrightonHoveCC 8,718 7,573
10 Kent County Council @Kent_cc 8,664 2,782
11 Sunderland City Council @SunderlandUK 8,202 7,835
12 Sheffield City Council @SheffCouncil 7,665 5,870
13 Swansea City Council @SwanseaCouncil 7,657 2,750
14 Essex County Council @Essex_CC 7,624 2,481
15 Devon County Council @DevonCC 7,581 3,786
16 South Lanarkshire Council @SouthLanCouncil 7,076 2,471
17 Derbyshire County Council @Derbyshirecc 6,955 2,634
18 Hampshire County Council @hantsconnect 6,892 4,445
19 Fife Council @FifeCouncil 6,522 6,316
20 Norfolk County Council @NorfolkCC 6,484 2,387
21 Lambeth Council @lambeth_council 6,434 1,122
22 Salford City Council @SalfordCouncil 6,399 4,506
23 Birmingham City Council @BCCNewsRoom 6,345 5,747
24 Bristol City Council @BristolCouncil 6,102 1,930
25 Oxford City Council @OxfordCity 5,688 800
26 Nottinghamshire County Council @NottsCC 5,657 3,055
27 Kirklees Council @KirkleesCouncil 5,574 4,502
28 Lewisham Council @LewishamCouncil 5,411 1,967
29 Westminster City Council @CityWestminster 5,392 1,681
30 East Renfrewshire Council @EastRenCouncil 5,372 3,426
31 Cornwall County Council @CornwallCouncil 5,364 2,998
32 North Yorkshire County Council @northyorkscc 5,285 4,164
33 Camden Council @camdentalking 5,227 3,481
34 Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council @WalsallCouncil 5,214 12,949
35 Southampton City Council @SouthamptonCC 5,052 3,770
36 Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council @SolihullCouncil 5,030 4,285
37 Coventry City Council @coventrycc 5,014 1,676
38 Dorset Councils online (some Dorset authorities) @dorsetforyou 5,009 2,220
39 Derby City Council @DerbyCC 4,936 1,288
40 Greenwich Council @Royal_Greenwich 4,907 3,125
41 Renfrewshire Council @RenCouncilNews 4,895 1,898
42 Southwark Council @lb_southwark 4,821 1,695
43 Aberdeenshire Council @Aberdeenshire 4,814 2,832
44 Liverpool City Council @lpoolcouncil 4,801 696
45 Lancashire County Council @LancashireCC 4,790 3,500
46 Preston City Council @prestoncouncil 4,747 2,879
47 Bournemouth Borough Council @bournemouthbc 4,726 3,598
48 Wandsworth Borough Council @wandbc 4,673 2,355
49 Stirling Council @StirlingCouncil 4,671 3,061
50 Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council @RochdaleCouncil 4,613 1,703
51 Cheshire West and Chester Council @Go_CheshireWest 4,611 5,424
52 Stoke on Trent City Council @SoTCityCouncil 4,603 6,877
53 Wakefield City Council @MyWakefield 4,579 3,234
54 Hertfordshire County Council @hertscc 4,575 1,187
55 Surrey County Council @SurreyCouncil 4,534 6,585
56 Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council @TamesideCouncil 4,488 2,861
57 Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council @BoltonCouncil 4,479 1,757
58 Medway Council @medway_council 4,401 3,242
59 Staffordshire County Council @StaffordshireCC 4,358 3,637
60 Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council @StockportMBC 4,338 1,638
61 Hillingdon Council @Hillingdon 4,333 3,117
62 Lincoln City Council @lincolncouncil 4,307 3,512
63 Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council @GMBCouncil 4,284 1,363
64 Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council @sandwellcouncil 4,249 4,177
65 Fenland District Council @FenlandCouncil 4,234 534
66 Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council @WiganCouncil 4,211 5,424
67 Monmouthshire County Council @MonmouthshireCC 4,109 7,044
68 Norwich City Council @NorwichCC 4,065 958
69 Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council @OldhamCouncil 4,046 3,943
70 Warrington Borough Council @WarringtonBC 4,018 851
71 Dundee City Council @DundeeCouncil 4,010 521
72 Shropshire Council @ShropCouncil 3,965 5,133
73 York City Council @CityofYork 3,950 2,393
74 St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council @sthelenscouncil 3,886 9,514
75 Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council @stocktoncouncil 3,844 4,232
76 Durham County Council @DurhamCouncil 3,811 4,904
77 West Sussex County Council @WSCCNews 3,801 3,794
78 North Devon District Council @ndevoncouncil 3,796 4,950
79 Falkirk Council @falkirkcouncil 3,780 709
80 Vale of Glamorgan Council @VOGCouncil 3,774 1,944
81 Bury Metropolitan Borough Council @BuryCouncil 3,697 2,892
82 Blackpool Council @BpoolCouncil 3,544 3,438
83 Aberdeen City Council @AberdeenCC 3,479 3,741
84 Chorley Borough Council @ChorleyCouncil 3,466 2,303
85 Sutton Council @lbsuttonnews 3,447 2,561
86 Bracknell Forest Borough Council @BracknellForest 3,431 5,245
87 Lincolnshire County Council @LincolnshireCC 3,409 1,201
88 Suffolk County Council @suffolkcc 3,390 849
89 Barnet Council @BarnetCouncil 3,389 1,053
90 Gloucestershire County Council @GlosCC 3,333 2,133
91 Telford and the Wrekin Borough Council @TelfordWrekin 3,282 3,643
92 Hackney Council @hackneyliving 3,279 728
93 Croydon Council @yourcroydon 3,267 2,280
93 Northamptonshire County Council @mycountycouncil 3,267 2,162
95 Southend on Sea Borough Council @SouthendBC 3,215 2,359
96 Oxfordshire County Council @OxfordshireCC 3,201 886
97 Argyll and Bute Council @argyllandbute 3,189 1,360
97 Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council @Calderdale 3,189 1,372
99 Winchester City Council @WinchesterCity 3,151 6,963
100 Cumbria County Council @CumbriaCC 3,150 1,578



Local authorities on Twitter – 200 to 101

This is the third in a series of posts on local authorities’ use of Twitter. We’re counting down local authorities according to the size of their following, and then considering the results.

As we’ve suggested here before, social media is a cheap and easy way to engage stakeholders, for think tankscentral governmenttrade bodies and directly elected mayors. We even think it could be used to open-up policy research and development, for example for local authorities to connect with their communities. So which local authorities are seizing the opportunities of social media the most? (Let us know if we’ve got anything wrong and we’ll correct it asap).

No. Local authority Twitter name No. of followers No. of tweets
101 Leicester City Council @Leicester_News 3,142 4,820
102 Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council @blackburndarwen 3,135 2,452
103 East Sussex County Council @EastSussexCC 3,134 2,283
104 South Ayrshire Council @southayrshire 3,097 6,628
105 Burnley Borough Council @burnleycouncil 3,086 1,084
106 Cambridgeshire County Council @CambsCC 3,084 2,575
107 Pembrokeshire County Council @Pembrokeshire 3,074 2,382
108 Wolverhampton City Council @WolvesCouncil 3,066 2,464
109 Islington Council @IslingtonBC 3,040 1,567
110 Brent Council @Brent_Council 2,993 1,111
111 North Ayrshire Council @North_Ayrshire 2,991 2,029
112 Hammersmith and Fulham Council @LBHF 2,981 854
113 Wrexham County Borough Council @wrexhamcbc 2,956 4,476
114 Kingston upon Hull City Council @Hullccnews 2,935 2,283
115 East Ayrshire Council @EastAyrshire 2,875 2,031
116 Highland Council @HighlandCouncil 2,843 2,655
117 Orkney Islands Council @OrkneyCouncil 2,833 254
118 Harlow District Council @HarlowCouncil 2,830 629
119 Redbridge Council @RedbridgeLive 2,825 922
120 Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council @KnowsleyCouncil 2,803 2,270
121 Torfaen County Borough Council @torfaencouncil 2,768 1,663
122 Tunbridge Wells Borough Council @TWellsCouncil 2,736 946
123 South Ribble Borough Council @southribblebc 2,691 720
124 Peterborough City Council @PeterboroughCC 2,687 1,878
125 Reading Borough Council @ReadingCouncil 2,684 850
126 North East Lincolnshire Council @NELincs 2,655 1,131
127 Stratford on Avon District Council @StratfordDC 2,647 1,339
128 Maidstone Borough Council @maidstonebc 2,593 816
129 Bromley Council @LBofBromley 2,591 749
130 Braintree District Council @BraintreeDC 2,589 3,260
131 Richmond upon Thames Council @LBRUT 2,575 2,486
132 West Lothian Council @LoveWestLothian 2,559 4,776
133 Northumberland County Council @N_landCouncil 2,557 3,953
134 Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council @dudleymbc 2,536 2,091
135 Cheltenham Borough Council @CheltenhamBC 2,526 1,739
136 Exeter City Council @ExeterCouncil 2,524 805
137 Babergh District Council @BaberghDistrict 2,509 823
137 Torbay Council @Torbay_Council 2,509 2,403
137 Worcestershire County Council @worcscc 2,509 1,294
140 Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council @NPTCouncil 2,507 1,766
141 Lichfield District Council @Lichfield_DC 2,483 1,660
142 North Lincolnshire Council @NorthLincsCNews 2,472 2,831
143 Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council @TraffordCouncil 2,435 1,979
144 Warwickshire County Council @wcc_news 2,433 4,254
145 Borough of Poole @BoroughofPoole 2,405 1,050
146 Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council @WirralCouncil 2,399 963
147 Cannock Chase District Council @CannockChaseDC 2,368 3,166
148 Bath and North East Somerset Council @bathnes 2,334 3,107
149 Cherwell District Council @Cherwellcouncil 2,282 807
150 Windsor and Maidenhead Royal Borough Council @RBWM 2,278 2,117
151 Lancaster City Council @LancasterCC 2,276 1,262
152 North Somerset District Council @NorthSomersetC 2,267 1,188
153 Tower Hamlets Council @TowerHamletsNow 2,263 341
154 Chelmsford City Council @ChelmsCouncil 2,252 1,776
155 Ealing Council @EalingCouncil 2,245 797
156 Ispwich Borough Council @IspwichGov 2,244 607
157 Darlington Borough Council @darlingtonbc 2,228 4,518
158 Powys County Council @PowysCC 2,209 1,097
159 Perth and Kinross Council @PerthandKinross 2,207 1,526
160 Clackmannanshire Council @ClacksCouncil 2,199 1,653
161 Plymouth City Council @plymouthcc 2,188 2,406
162 Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council @barnsleycouncil 2,169 769
163 Pendle Borough Council @PendleBC 2,153 2,766
164 Thanet District Council @ThanetCouncil 2,129 749
165 Merton Council @Merton_Council 2,117 1,068
166 Thurrock Council @thurrockcouncil 2,113 1,032
167 Flintshire County Council @FlintshireCC 2,093 2,507
168 Wyre Borough Council @wyrecouncil 2,077 714
169 South Oxfordshire District Council @SouthOxon 2,064 736
170 Rugby Borough Council @rugbybc 2,037 1,704
171 City of London @cityoflondon 2,036 633
172 Wokingham Borough Council @WokinghamBC 2,029 1,574
173 Midlothian Council @midgov 2,026 1,012
174 Tandridge District Council @TandridgeDC 2,024 2,095
175 Dover District Council @DoverDC 2,014 691
176 North East Derbyshire District Council @nedDC 2,009 3,054
177 Caerphilly County Borough Council @CaerphillyCBC 1,996 2,528
178 East Lothian Council @ELCouncil 1,994 1,596
179 Newark and Sherwood District Council @NSDCouncil 1,992 1,117
180 Warwick District Council @Warwick_DC 1,988 799
181 Elmbridge Borough Council @ElmbridgeBC 1,984 3,231
182 Gwynedd County Council @CyngorGwynedd 1,984 2,950
183 Middlesbrough Council @MbroCouncil 1,975 644
184 Wycombe District Council @wycombedc 1,965 1,530
185 South Staffordshire District Council @south_staffs 1,955 1,821
186 Eastbourne Borough Council @EastbourneBC 1,948 4,959
187 Rother District Council @RotherDC 1,928 747
188 West Berkshire Council @WestBerkshire 1,923 4,904
189 North Hertfordshire District Council @NorthHertsDC 1,883 1,416
190 North Warwickshire Borough Council @North_Warks_BC 1,882 4,580
191 Bedford Borough Council @BedfordTweets 1,869 764
192 Swindon Borough Council @Swindonnews 1,852 328
193 Cheshire East Council @CheshireEast 1,842 736
194 Lewes District Council @LewesDC 1,837 686
195 Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council @BasingstokeGov 1,795 752
196 East Dunbartonshire Council @EDCouncil 1,787 806
197 South Derbyshire District Council @SDDC 1,784 2,175
198 North Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council @NTCouncilTeam 1,768 1,448
199 Fylde Borough Council @fyldecouncil 1,765 4,056
200 Wealden District Council @wealdendistrict 1,758 172



Local authorities on Twitter – 300 to 201

This is the second in a series of posts on local authorities’ use of Twitter. Over the next week we’re counting down local authorities according to the size of their following, and then considering the results.

As we’ve suggested here before, social media is a cheap and easy way to engage stakeholders, for think tankscentral governmenttrade bodies and directly elected mayors. We even think it could be used to open-up policy research and development, for example for local authorities to connect with their communities. So which local authorities are seizing the opportunities of social media the most? (Let us know if we’ve got anything wrong and we’ll correct it asap).

No. Local authority Twitter name No. of followers No. of tweets
201 Hastings Borough Council @hastingsbc 1,756 743
202 Eden District Council @EdenCouncil 1,751 1,066
203 Cambridge City Council @camcitco 1,747 930
204 Worcester City Council @myworcester 1,736 2,215
205 Kensington and Chelsea Royal Borough Council @RBKC 1,729 1,502
206 Guildford Borough Council @GuildfordBC 1,710 1,619
207 Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council @MyDoncaster 1,704 1,258
208 Enfield Council @EnfieldCouncil 1,689 590
209 South Hams District Council @SouthHams_DC 1,677 259
210 St Albans District Council @StAlbansCouncil 1,659 703
211 Wiltshire Council @wiltscouncil 1,648 1,223
212 Tamworth Borough Council @TamworthCouncil 1,646 4,277
213 East Riding of Yorkshire Council @East_Riding 1,634 2,050
214 East Dorset District Council @EastDorsetDC 1,629 421
215 Harrow Council @harrow_council 1,620 927
216 Brentwood Borough Council @Brentwood_BC 1,618 1,070
217 Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council @BlaenauGwentCBC 1,615 1,028
218 Bromsgrove District Council @BromsgroveDC 1,607 412
219 North Kesteven District Council @NorthKestevenDC 1,599 878
220 Denbighshire County Council @DenbighshireCC 1,587 1,106
221 Portsmouth City Council @portsmouthtoday 1,571 1,280
222 Leicestershire County Council @LeicsCountyHall 1,560 1,055
223 Crawley Borough Council @crawleybc 1,558 1,626
224 Luton Borough Council @lutoncouncil 1,552 1,387
225 Hertsmere Borough Council @HertsmereBC 1,546 2,235
226 Sefton Council @seftoncouncil 1,542 268
227 Broxtowe Borough Council @broxtowebc 1,513 2,616
228 South Lakeland District Council @SouthLakelandDC 1,512 760
229 Northampton Borough Council @NorthamptonBC 1,497 959
229 Reigate and Banstead Borough Council @reigatebanstead 1,497 595
231 Gloucester City Council @GloucesterCity 1,472 590
232 Basildon Borough Council @BasildonCouncil 1,468 1,456
233 Rushcliffe Borough Council @Rushcliffe 1,458 876
234 Bolsover District Council @BolsoverDC 1,456 406
235 Rossendale Borough Council @RossendaleBC 1,445 1,362
236 Colchester Borough Council @yourcolchester 1,441 858
237 Buckinghamshire County Council @buckscc 1,428 923
238 Dacorum Borough Council @DacorumBC 1,411 768
239 Epping Forest District Council @eppingforestdc 1,407 674
240 Chichester District Council @ChichesterDC 1,402 1,869
241 Bradford Council @Bradfordmdc 1,398 1,243
242 Stevenage Borough Council @StevenageBC 1,396 777
243 Daventry District Council @DaventryDC 1,387 682
244 Selby District Council @SelbyDC 1,368 682
245 Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council @NewsNBC 1,346 1,885
246 Eastleigh Borough Council @EastleighBC 1,321 1,172
247 West Dunbartonshire Council @WDCouncil 1,313 561
248 East Lindsey District Council @EastLindseyDC 1,308 1,582
248 South Gloucestershire Council @sgloscouncil 1,308 759
250 Welwyn Hatfield District Council @WelHatCouncil 1,299 1,353
251 Hounslow Council @LBofHounslow 1,298 1,664
252 Richmondshire District Council @RichmondshireDC 1,296 148
253 Vale of White Horse District Council @WhiteHorseDC 1,275 436
254 Hambleton District Council @HambletonDC 1,274 1,244
255 South Somerset District Council @Southsomersetdc 1,267 640
256 Ryedale District Council @RyedaleDC 1,266 427
256 Watford Borough Council @WatfordCouncil 1,266 707
258 Suffolk Coastal District Council @SuffolkCoastal 1,259 863
259 Three Rivers District Council @ThreeRiversDC 1,240 2,377
260 Shepway District Council @shepwaydc 1,239 499
261 Herefordshire County Council @HfdsCouncil 1,223 1,797
262 Maldon District Council @MaldonDC 1,193 1,275
263 New Forest District Council @newforestdc 1,192 201
264 Gedling Borough Council @GedlingBC 1,182 1,040
265 South Cambridgeshire District Council @SouthCambs 1,150 1,437
266 Great Yarmouth Borough Council @greatyarmouthbc 1,142 1,012
267 Fareham Borough Council @FarehamBC 1,132 2,902
268 Central Bedfordshire Council @letstalkcentral 1,124 3,357
269 Scottish Borders Council @scotborders 1,118 564
270 Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council @RMBCPress 1,115 2,215
271 Dumfries and Galloway Council @dgcouncil 1,114 313
272 Scarborough Borough Council @ScarboroCouncil 1,096 1,043
273 East Hertfordshire District Council @EastHerts 1,091 374
274 Angus Council @AngusCouncil 1,082 1,185
275 Wychavon District Council @Wychavon 1,080 888
276 East Northamptonshire District Council @ENCouncil 1,078 1,220
277 St Edmundsbury Borough Council @stedsbc 1,073 107
278 Halton Borough Council @HaltonBC 1,067 770
278 South Kesteven District Council @southkesteven 1,067 416
280 Moray Council @TheMorayCouncil 1,063 730
281 Conwy County Borough Council @ConwyCBC 1,052 702
282 Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council @hinckandbos_bc 1,049 752
283 Slough Borough Council @SloughCouncil 1,040 1,357
284 Allerdale Borough Council @allerdale 997 3,785
285 West Lancashire Borough Council @Westlancsbc 996 583
286 Inverclyde Council @inverclyde 978 493
287 Milton Keynes Council @mkcouncil 970 295
288 Havering Council @LBofHavering 969 500
289 Mole Valley District Council @MoleValleyDC 949 1,747
290 Bexley Council @whatsoninbexley 943 1,141
291 Ashford Borough Council @AshfordCouncil 942 370
292 Copeland Borough Council @copelandbc 911 1,169
293 Swale Borough Council @SwaleCouncil 909 248
294 Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council @WestNorfolkBC 905 548
295 Waveney District Council @waveneydc 896 901
296 Isle of Wight Council @iwight 875 508
297 Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council @NBBCouncil 870 274
298 East Devon District Council @eastdevon 862 451
299 East Staffordshire Borough Council @eaststaffsbc 855 1,578
300 Redditch Borough Council @RedditchMatters 851 576



Local authorities on Twitter – 395 to 301

This is the first in a series of posts on local authorities’ use of Twitter. Over the next week we’re counting down local authorities according to their followers.

It’s not that we think that Twitter is the be-all-and-end-all of political communication, but as we’ve suggested before – in relation to think tanks, central government, trade bodies and directly elected mayors – social media is a cheap and easy way to engage stakeholders, and even to open-up policy research and development. So which local authorities are seizing the opportunities of social media, and which aren’t (those marked with ‘n/a’ in the table below)? Let us know if we’ve got anything wrong and we will of course correct it – and we welcome your thoughts.

No. Local authority Twitter name No. of followers No. of tweets
301 Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council @MerthyrCBC 825 470
302 Woking Borough Council @wokingcouncil 796 59
303 Carlisle City Council @CarlisleCC 785 326
303 Test Valley Borough Council @TestValleyBC 785 302
305 Blaby District Council @BlabyDC 777 973
306 Derry City Council @derrycc 766 126
307 North Lanarkshire Council @NLanarkshire 755 0
307 Tendring District Council @Tendring_DC 755 479
309 Newport City Council @NewportCouncil 752 355
310 Waverley Borough Council @WaverleyBC 727 736
311 Barking and Dagenham Council @lbbdcouncil 723 288
312 Teignbridge District Council @Teignbridge 721 425
313 Surrey Heath Borough Council @Surreyheath 717 1.572
314 Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council @RedcarCleveland 707 843
315 Newtownabbey Borough Council @NewtownabbeyBC 698 679
316 Stafford Borough Council @Staffordbc 670 292
317 Melton Borough Council @MeltonBC 657 1,127
318 Breckland District Council @BreckCouncil 610 624
319 Hyndburn Borough Council @HyndburnCouncil 604 754
320 Craven District Council @CravenCouncil 602 340
321 Stroud District Council @StroudDC 570 220
322 Hartlepool Borough Council @HpoolCouncil 568 648
323 Adur District Council @adurandworthing 558 440
323 Charnwood Borough Council @CharnwoodBC 558 885
323 Worthing Borough Council @adurandworthing 558 440
326 West Lindsey District Council @WestLindseyDC 520 914
327 Spelthorne Borough Council @SpelthorneBC 511 88
328 Forest of Dean District Council @FoDDC 503 324
329 Derbyshire Dales District Council @derbyshiredales 502 1,427
330 Mansfield District Council @MDC_News 498 355
331 West Somerset District Council @wsomerset 493 549
332 Rutland County Council @rutlandcouncil 479 541
333 Carmarthenshire County Council @CarmsCCPress 472 412
334 Canterbury City Council @TweetCanterbury 443 111
335 Cookstown District Council @visit_cookstown 437 376
336 Haringey Council @haringeycouncil 436 117
337 Bridgend County Borough Council @BridgendCBC 434 402
338 Bassetlaw District Council @BassetlawDC 432 55
339 West Oxfordshire District Council @WodcNews 429 373
340 South Norfolk District Council @SNorfolkCouncil 428 303
341 Cotswold District Council @CotswoldDC 413 523
342 Ceredigion County Council @CeredigionCC 409 349
343 Barrow in Furness Borough Council @BarrowCouncil 402 402
343 Sevenoaks District Council @SDC_newsdesk 402 151
345 Horsham District Council @HorshamDC 392 420
346 Malvern Hills District Council @MHDCcomms 391 67
347 Mid Suffolk District Council @MidSuffolk 386 267
348 Western Isles Council @cne_siar 368 44
349 Wyre Forest District Council @WyreForestDC 359 428
350 Harborough District Council @HarboroughDC 336 340
351 Newham Council @NewhamLondon 328 170
352 Chesterfield Borough Council @ChesterfieldBC 317 87
353 Rochford District Council @RochfordDC 313 546
354 Castle Point Borough Council @CastlePointBC 307 170
355 High Peak Borough Council @HighPeakBC 297 179
356 Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames @RBKingston 294 98
357 Rushmoor Borough Council @RushmoorCouncil 290 291
358 Amber Valley Borough Council @OurAmberValley 282 216
359 South Northamptonshire District Council @SNorthantsC 279 154
360 Uttlesford District Council @UttlesfordDC 265 141
361 West Devon Borough Council @WestDevon_BC 258 193
362 Broadland District Council @BroadlandDC 256 203
363 Epsom and Ewell Borough Council @EpsomEwellBC 253 274
364 East Hampshire District Council @EastHantsDC 242 59
365 Arun District Council @ArunDistrict 235 293
366 Erewash Borough Council @ErewashBC 211 34
367 Craigavon Borough Council @craigavonc 208 325
368 Huntingdonshire District Council @huntsdc 189 56
369 Tewkesbury Borough Council @TewkesburyBCgov 188 283
370 Boston Borough Council @Bostonboro 187 220
371 Sedgemoor District Council @SedgemoorDC 185 238
372 Havant Borough Council @HavantBorough 180 118
373 Torridge District Council @torridgedc 171 221
374 Somerset County Council @SomersetCouncil 147 0
375 East Cambridgeshire District Council @liveastcambs 146 151
376 Forest Heath District Council @forestheath 118 16
377 Mid Devon District Council @MidDevonDC 118 26
378 Newry and Mourne District Council @newrymournedc 96 51
379 Chiltern District Council @ChilternCouncil 88 32
380 Mid Sussex District Council @MSDCNews 83 0
381 Dartford Borough Council @dartfordcouncil 79 0
382 Carrickfergus Borough Council @CarrickfergusBC 72 76
383 Coleraine Borough Council @ColeraineBC 61 90
384 Down District Council @DownDCofficial 60 136
385 Waltham Forest Council @WalthamForestCo 40 1
386 South Bucks District Council @SouthBucksDC 34 13
387 North Dorset District Council @northdorset 33 4
388 Shetland Islands Council @ShetIslandsCll 26 17
389 South Holland District Council @SHollandDC 24 0
390 Antrim Borough Council @AntrimBCouncil 23 0
391 Oadby and Wigston Borough Council @Oadby_Wigston 4 5
392 Moyle District Council @moylecouncil 3 2
393 Gravesham Borough Council @graveshambc 1 0
394 Harrogate Borough Council @HarrogateBC 0 0
394 Kettering Borough Council @Kettering_BC 0 0
  Ards Borough Council n/a    
  Armagh City Council n/a    
  Ashfield District Council n/a    
  Aylesbury Vale District Council n/a    
  Ballymena Borough Council n/a    
  Ballymoney Borough Council n/a    
  Banbridge District Council n/a    
  Broxbourne Borough Council n/a    
  Castlereagh Borough Council n/a    
  Christchurch Borough Council n/a    
  Corby Borough Council n/a    
  Dorset County Council n/a    
  Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council n/a    
  Fermanagh District Council n/a    
  Gosport Borough Council n/a    
  Hart District Council n/a    
  Isle of Anglesey County Council n/a    
  Isles of Scilly Council n/a    
  Larne Borough Council n/a    
  Limavady Borough Council n/a    
  Lisburn City Council n/a    
  Magherafelt District Council n/a    
  Mendip District Council n/a    
  North Down Borough Council n/a    
  North Norfolk District Council n/a    
  North West Leicestershire District Council n/a    
  Omagh District Council n/a    
  Purbeck District Council n/a    
  Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council n/a    
  Ribble Valley Borough Council n/a    
  Runneymede Borough Council n/a    
  South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council n/a    
  Staffordshire Moorlands District Council n/a    
  Strabane District Council n/a    
  Taunton Deane District Council n/a    
  Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council n/a    
  Wellingborough Borough Council n/a    
  West Dorset District Council n/a    
  Weymouth and Portland Borough Council n/a