Skip to content

Democracy and Transparency at East Devon

  • by JW

… an interim report


When it came to power, the new administration at East Devon brought in a new portfolio – dedicated to bringing about greater openness and participation:

Executive post – Portfolio Holder Democracy and Transparency – East Devon

Indeed, such importance does the District Council give this position, that it has ranked it immediately after the deputy leader in cabinet:

Our cabinet members and portfolio holders – East Devon

Let’s consider where the District Council is…


A problem for every authority is getting people involved – and one example is how to engage residents in spending decisions – which is proving difficult:

24 August 2020 – £300,000 to spend on creating new sports facilities in Exmouth goes to the vote – East Devon

28 September 2020 – Time is running out for Exmouth residents to vote on how to spend £300,000 available in the town. – East Devon

This is part of a grander project:

Participatory budgeting and participatory democracy – Vision Group for Sidmouth

There are several consultancies out there specialising in these ideas and techniques which authorities can call on:

Nesta | The Innovation Foundation

And ‘participatory futures’ is one of those:

Our Futures: By the people, for the people | Nesta

If we look to other councils in the West Country, they are experimenting with such tools:

Independents for Frome – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Nurturing social capital in Frome – Vision Group for Sidmouth


The new administration at East Devon have committed to the so-called Nolan Principles:

The Seven Principles of Public Life – GOV.UK

District Council determined to improve probity in planning – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And this spirit of openness has now been put at the centre of the Beach Management Plan process in Sidmouth:

Beach Management Plan: latest meeting report – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The council also seems determined to allow more openness at meetings – with allowance for more questions and further experiments with virtual meetings:

Agenda for Cabinet on Wednesday, 28th October, 2020, 6.00 pm – East Devon

Nevertheless, the council’s website leaves a lot to be desired in terms of access to information – with the news archive, for example, being very patchy indeed;

News – East Devon.   If you find the website frustrating please let them know.

Unfortunately, not every local authority in Devon seems quite so keen on greater openness and participation:

Exeter City Council executive members take direct control of city planning