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Power, participation and political renewalCase studies in public participation$
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Marian Barnes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781861346681

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861346681.001.0001

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Issues and expertise

Issues and expertise

(p.165) Eight Issues and expertise
Power, participation and political renewal

Marian Barnes

Janet Newman

Helen Sullivan

Policy Press

This chapter considers two examples of initiatives that have even less of a profile within contemporary democratic practice: initiatives that are based around campaigns and policy making in relation to specific issues. These examples illustrate many similar issues in terms of the dynamics of the relationship between autonomous SMOs and the official sphere of local policy making. The first example grew out of community action focused on a campaign relating to fuel poverty, which had emerged from a broader-based poverty action group in City B. The fuel poverty group was a coalition of individuals, voluntary groups, and community groups from the environmental and poverty sectors that was initially formed to lobby for the passage of the 2000 Fuel Poverty and Energy Conservation Act, and to give increased prominence to the issue of fuel poverty. The second case study considered was a sustainability forum that provided opportunities for dialogue between activists in the environmental movement, local interested and concerned citizens, and council officers in relation to issues of environmental sustainability. A strong theme within both case studies was the significance of the knowledge and expertise of participants in these initiatives, knowledge that came from different sources but which placed participants in a strong position to claim legitimacy for the position they took on policy issues and to be heard and influential within policy-making circles.

Keywords:   initiatives, policy making, fuel poverty, sustainability, community groups, voluntary groups, SMOs, legitimacy

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