This report will lay down the conceptual foundations for the Citizen Power
programme and outline why we have alighted upon particular areas of practice.
Its structure aims to flow from the argument that if any society is to make
headway it must constantly try to bridge what the RSA has called the ‘social
aspiration gap’. This is the gap between the way we act now and the society we
actually live in, and the way in which we need to behave if we are to create the
world we say we want.
In Chapter 1 we begin to imagine what future active citizenship might look like. This ideal-type model is developed into a measurable framework on which the health of civic behaviour in Peterborough can be assessed and monitored over time.
Chapter 2 looks at some of the factors and behaviours preventing Peterborough from reaching this hoped-for state. Particular focus is placed on improving levels of civic behaviour by tackling issues connected to public participation, cultural cohesion and a lack of identification with Peterborough as a place.
The final two chapters examine how this gap in Peterborough might be closed, or at least diminished. Chapter 3 runs through some of the concepts, theory and evidence of ‘what works’ to close this gap, while the final and fourth chapter outlines how this thinking is embedded in the practical projects we will undertake in the city over the next two years.
This report is punctuated with comments from some of the people we talked to in our research and some key statistics about Peterborough. Inevitably these focus on the challenges the city faces and we have not been able to do justice to the work taking place on the ground. We have also included a number of case studies, to give a sense of the variety of existing work, which is already trying to engage citizens in new ways. The report sets out the findings from the scoping process and an outline of the proposed Citizen Power programme. It represents the end of the inception and planning phase of the project and the start of the real work: translating theory, research and intent into practice.