I believe the biggest challenge I face as a new councillor, is engaging with my residents. Given how many people have lost faith with the current “political machine”, as shown by the 75% of people who didn’t think it was worth going out to vote, it is clear that we have to try and do things differently. Also given the minority administration in Shire Hall, we are in a much better position to make a difference. Therefore I am going to try to open up a number of different mechanisms, both traditional and contemporary to engage with my residents. Here is the plan.
I am going to hold a variation of the traditional drop in surgery, every month, in various locations in Grange and Kingsway. I am hoping that the local City councillors for the wards will join me. The dates and locations will be published just as soon as I have them. However, historically these are not too popular. That doesn’t mean they should not be done, but it does mean I need to be a bit more innovative.
So I am going to be utilising some of the ideas I learned when at Councillor Camp and will be holding a Virtual Surgery, or E-Surgery. The idea is that every Thursday from 1930h to 2030h, I will be logged into Skype (username is cllrbkirby and available for any resident to call and chat. (Many thanks to Cllr David Harrington for the inspiration)
Also, making more use of Social Media is key, and while not everyone in Grange and Kingsway will want to follow me on twitter (@Baz_k), I think it could be a great tool to highlight any particular issues. Therefore I encourage residents to tag any tweet about the area with #OurGrangeandKingsway – I have a filter set up for this hashtag, and therefore any problems I will pick up. Also, anyone who uses the tag will also get picked up by an E-Paper that publishes everyday through my twitter account (called #OurGrangeandKingsway)and therefore others will see the problems too. People can also just tweet me or direct message me and I will also get that.
In terms of messages from me, I aim to keep blogging as well as going round the community and engaging with people on the doorstep, with street stalls and the like. I am also going to brave a Podcast/Videoblog to get messages out there too. Watch this space for more details.
I will also be exploring how we can use facebook and other ideas, but lets start small 😉
The key thing here is we need to communicate, both about what needs corrected, but also about what is going right in our community so we can spread that message and share best practice. The lesson we have to learn is that as elected representatives, we are representing a diverse community in the way we feel comfortable communicating, and therefore we need to open up as many channels as possible to make it as easy as possible. I aim to do what I can to do that, and I hope you will also rise to the challenge and give it a go too.
See you on Thursday…