The health of local democracy in the UK is being undermined by the very low turnouts in local government elections. As the recent government pilot schemes for changing the conduct of local elections have recognised, there is an urgent need to get people more involved at the local level, to reconnect voters with the local political system and to help reduce the level of cynicism towards local government. However, there is one area of local electoral politics in which there are clear signs of democratic renewal: turnouts are up, candidates are well-known and clearly identify with their community, young people and minority ethnic communities have a voice and local people are interested and enthused by a distinctively 'local' brand of politics. This area is the 'non-statutory' community elections increasingly used within the New Deal for Communities (NDC) regeneration initiative. This article examines the experience of community elections in NDC areas - particularly focussing on Newcastle's West Gate - and argues that the elections provide examples of good practice and innovation that could be used to enhance the conduct of local government elections. Moreover, community elections could also make a positive contribution to revitalising the overall health of local democracy by providing a 'complementary' channel of representation to that provided by elected local councillors.