The Council has launched an online survey aimed at finding out how residents want to interface with their local Councillors.
The survey can be found by clicking here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8ZTKMZ3
The questions asked are mundane and are unlikely to unlock suggestions for improved communication. Attitudes seem to be rooted in the 1990s with an inability to supplement the public meeting/ward committee culture.
The survey does ask whether residents would view local Councillors Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter feeds? Most competent and caring Councillors already use these channels albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Some however fail to say where they live and offer no direct telephone contact.
It is ironic that the survey comes at a time when another part of the Council is trying to restrict residents access to information. Its “freedom of information” web page hasn’t been updated since last summer. The Council is removing residents association meeting details for its site and will no longer publicise local events.
The Council has never been good about communicating what is happening in local neighbourhoods particularly as far as spending its budget is concerned.
Some three months after the Council election some residents are still waiting for their first communication from their new representatives. There is a suspicion that some newly elected members were taken by surprise by their own success. Some Councillors need to put their own house in order before publicly agonising about changes.
More can be done to create a greater sense of community. Councillors should be local “leaders” in this regard. Organising litter picks is one of the survey options offered, but something more is required.
There is no reason why the Council could not host an electronic noticeboard on which residents could pose questions and express views about the local neigbourhood. Councillors could provide answers and offer solutions to problems.
That would at least recognise that – although public meetings might still have a role to play in dealing with major issues – the day to day challenge of keeping public service standards at a satisfactory level requires a little more innovation.
As for local Councillors, they should make sure that they survey residents opinions and priorities on a door by door basisi at least once a year.
That is the best way of staying in touch.