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December 2, 2009

Get your village talking

Filed under: Featured — andrewchilvers @ 11:49 am
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Ever think about your local parish council? Bear with me on this one.

Recently, a couple of parish councillors knocked on my door claiming people were complaining at a private sign I’d put up on my fence (I co-own the lane outside and have to maintain it).

I then received a letter threatening action “from a higher authority”. As the lane leads to a church, I could only assume the higher authority in question was a lawyer or God, or both. Ironically, I hadn’t even put the sign up; it had always been there, covered in ivy. I just cut the ivy back. God!

The councillors grudgingly apologised; God forgave my over-eager hedge pruning; life goes on.

Everyone knows that parish councils consist of landowners, business folk, patrician families or self interested individuals.

I was a parish councillor once; it’s not a barrel of laughs. Meetings drone on for hours; minutes are written up weeks later by a hard-pressed clerk; are seldom read by the public who then moan when a high-tech abattoir appears at the end of their gardens.

“IT WAS IN THE MINUTES!”, councillors scream when pressed on this sudden, visible instrusion.

Amazingly, decisions by parish councils play a huge role in shaping local communities; from planning and hedge clearing to helping older people and disabled individuals with courtesy buses and day centre activities.

So just imagine if after each parish council meeting, the clerk spoke into a video blog and told the public in a nutshell what had happened at the meeting. Told you in a nutshell the most important parts of the minutes. How decisions made at that meeting would affect you.

The blog could be shown in the local library; mobile library; day centre.

This in not some earnest plea for democracy; people can take it or leave it. But at least the methods of communications would be clear to everyone – self interested or disinterested.

I think it could herald a little social revolution that would engage and galvernise Britain’s communities, big and small. Just imagine that! God!

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