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UCLan to team up with community partners to investigate local council cuts

UCLan to team up with community partners to investigate local council cuts Banner Image

University is academic partner in Bureau Local and Open Data Manchester hack event

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has teamed up with The Bureau Local and Open Data Manchester to work on a nationwide investigation into council budgets ahead of the government's next set of funding decisions in March.

As the academic partner, UCLan will provide staff and students to work on the Big Council Budget Hack on Saturday 3 February in Manchester.  They will join members of The Bureau Local, part of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a 475-strong network of journalists, techies, designers, concerned citizens, subject specialists, and more who use data to tell local news stories.

This latest investigation will examine the budget data for half of England’s 353 councils to discover what will and won’t be funded ahead of the government's next set of funding decisions in March.

It is also a fantastic opportunity for our students to gain hands-on experience of working on a national project using live data that could make a big impact.

Dr François Nel, who teaches data journalism at UCLan and is a Reader in Media Innovation, said: “Working collaboratively with the news industry isn’t new to us at UCLan, but the extent of the collaboration and the nature of this important investigation is certainly something new. It illustrates the seismic shift in the way large scale data-driven journalism is made – coordinated by non-profits, like The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and involving a wide range of organisations and concerned citizens working inside, outside and alongside traditional news organisations.

“It is also a fantastic opportunity for our students to gain hands-on experience of working on a national project using live data that could make a big impact.”

Kristy Styles, newly-appointed Community Organiser for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Bureau Local initiative and UCLan graduate, is keen to engage as many people as possible in the initiative.

Whether you're a source of information about what areas of the budget are key, are a data scientist, analyst or wrangler keen to help us dive into the data dig out, or a storyteller, campaigner or designer, we want you to be there.

She commented: “This data is rarely scrutinised in some areas, and is never seen in aggregate, but we know cuts to vital services are about to bite - so we need your help making it accessible, understandable and something people might be able to act on.

“Whether you're a source of information about what areas of the budget are key, are a data scientist, analyst or wrangler keen to help us dive into the data dig out, or a storyteller, campaigner or designer, we want you to be there.”

As one of several hacks taking place across the country on 3 February, the Manchester event will help The Bureau Local to collate and centralise the fragmented information to inform people of the differences it will make to services such as adult and children’s social care, rubbish collection and library funding at a local and national level.

For more information and to register for the Big Council Budget Hack on Saturday 3 February at the Upper ground floor, Federation House, Manchester, visit Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-big-council-budget-hack-north-west-tickets-41837254354

Lyndsey Boardman | 11 January 2018