This report describes the findings from an action research project in Glasgow and Sheffield, which examined the relationships between local governance and local activism. 

Together with project partners from Solidarity Against Neoliberal Extremism (SANE) and It’s Our City! in the respective cities, we spoke to local campaigners and community groups between November 2022 and January 2023. Participants from both cities – working on a diverse range of issues – identified common experiences, themes, and demands for a more democratic local governance, as well as the prospects for more collectivised action.

We heard widely shared concerns about local democracy and governance. These included wide-ranging issues of access to local democracy and governance, the multiplier effect of cuts, challenges for campaigners having meaningful voice and influence, and the de-prioritisation of the public interest in the face of private and corporate capture. Councils do not often prioritise the issues and agendas that campaigners find important, and this mismatch makes campaign work harder.

In Spring 2023, we collated these insights and identified themes that arose, working together with artist Reece Thompson to produce a series of posters representing some of these findings. You can see the posters here

We have now written out the full findings into a report (as well as a summary report – see links below the pdf). We believe this is a crucial moment for improving our democracy: there is widespread democratic disengagement and polarisation, and a loss of public trust. This is true on all levels but we have chosen to look at local government, because it is closest to people’s everyday lives, but often overlooked.

Thank you to all the campaigners and community activists who spoke to us, Reece for the design of the posters and reports, and Lankelly Chase Foundation for the funding.


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The above report is the full report including an appendix on how to hold your own co-learning conversation.  There are also two other versions of the report, should you prefer:

Full report (no appendix)
Summary version (with appendix)