Clevedon First is a fledgling group of Clevedon residents who all feel we have a town that has no strategy or leadership in reversing the decline of the town or in making it a more attractive place to live, work and shop. I personally joined the council as I was determined to bring about change on a council that I thought seemed detached from the reality of the people of Clevedon’s lives and concerns. I have found the last year or so that I have been a councillor so disheartening and wrong that the ‘old school’ just keep on block voting against new initiatives or new ways of doing things. I also feel that often there isn’t the fight there for resources for Clevedon from North Somerset Council. Over the past 18 months I have found that any new initiative is met with foot dragging and delaying tactics. A simple bollard costing £275 to protect children in Queens Square took four years to approve.
Clevedon First, which is non-party political and non-sectarian, plan to lobby for more to be done to protect the interests of residents and we eventually want to be able to contest all seats on Clevedon Town Council during the next round of elections in 2015. We will contest our first seat on the town council on October 4 when a by-election for the Walton ward is being held following the resignation of the councillor for that area. Andrew Withers will be our candidate.
Recently I was banned from tweeting during town council meetings. Live tweeting was an attempt to make people aware of what was going on in council, something my fellow councillors thought was too radical.
Clevedon First feels there needs to be new blood on the council now to provide leadership and to fight for resources. The town council has £250,000 to spend each year – surely it should be spent in the way the town wants it to be.
I am rather surprised that,unfortunately, some of my fellow councillors aren’t so keen for me to tweet at meetings. There are two motions on the next town council meeting that are proposing that I (or whoever) should not be allowed to tweet at council meetings. Despite the fact that I think tweeting is a great way for Clevedon people to know what is going on in Clevedon, I am worried that council meetings will become even less democratic and less transparent if the use of this form of social media is banned. I have been asked to talk on BBC Bristol’s breakfast show about this matter. Can’t wait!
Samantha Pope from North Somerset Times was at last night’s meeting and she got in touch with me today to ask why I had decided to tweet. I had explained at the start of yesterday’s meeting to the other councillors present that I would be tweeting and reassured them that it would be a live commentary of the meeting topics rather than who was saying what and what everyone’s opinions were.
The reason I decided to start tweeting at meetings is that I thought it would be a good way to start engaging with the community. I want to be able to provide and exchange information. If the community knows and understands what their council are doing for them, then they will get involved. I am hoping that when people respond to me it will mean that I can articulate and represent their views and the needs of the local community more effectively. And not just my for my ward (Central).
Digital communications are a must for any council and it’s not just about having a website. These forms communications will compliment traditional methods of keeping people updated. Growing numbers of people of all ages are using these new forms of communications and expect organisations they are in contact with to do the same. We all have busy lives so can’t always sit down to read the paper or look at a website. Participation should be at the convenience of the participant.
And if people are more aware of what their council is doing and the sorts of decisions that are being made, it might even attract others to want to join the council.
Tonight is the latest committee meeting for Town Events and Amenities, at the Town Hall at 7.30pm. Remember members of the public are always welcome to attend these committee meetings. On tonight’s agenda are topics such as children’s summer events, Christmas lights, flowers beds… and more! I will be tweeting from the meeting to keep people updated!