Councillor Camp

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Bleary eyed, freezing and tired I dragged myself out of bed on a Saturday morning. Having spent the night on a blow up mattress that deflated as I slept with a party going on above my head my patience was thin and my ability to comprehend very little.

Asking myself why I kept doing this I made my weary way to Facebook HQ, soothed by the thought of caffeine and cake. So why was I getting out of bed before 7 on a Saturday? The answer was a one day conference on Councillors and Social media. Being the twitter and Facebook addict that I was I had been asked by some people why I needed to go to a course on social media.

So what did I get out of it apart from unlimited access to the Facebook fridge (coders and redbull, go figure)

Firstly, I was able to connect with a number of Councillors I had known only on twitter or met in passing and swap best practice. You would be surprised at the lack of support and information for Councillors. I only know of two books about local government and one is Ken Livingstone’s autobiography. Most of us are muddling about and learning from each other so networking opportunities are vital.

Secondly, I went in with the mindset that I could always learn more, I may have my phone glued to my hand 24/7, tweeting come snow or shine but no one person can know everything especially in such a new form of media. Getting to learn in such a great environment was awe inspiring. Plus the range of people who were there, from me at 24 to a 70 year old Councillor, all willing to lean. Didn’t hurt that they had Settlers of Catan in a pile of games either.

I must admit I didn’t like the format of the Unconference. Because of the way the day was designed I often found myself in groups where everyone wanted to learn and noone had any expertise or where a small group (of normally the same people) dominated based on computer knowledge that even I knew was out of date or wrong. But if anyone suggested an alternative they were dismissed out of hand.

However I learnt a lot, talked to a lot of people and have some big ideas. I’m currently thinking about setting up a YouTube channel and getting other Councillors to do voxpops. I don’t think we are quite at the web-casting stage but the seminar on that was amazingly interesting with the head of the company who does it on hand to explain.

All in all, it was worth going although it would have been nice to go to somewhere more local!

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2 thoughts on “Councillor Camp

  1. Local government seems to be doing a lot of soul searching at the moment. There seems to be so little to attract people to become active in local government because of it’s seeming credibility gap with the public. I think things like twitter and this blog help explain and make it seem more human but there is a long way to go. In my area this has been the possible response, http://www.wigantoday.net/news/local-news/town-hall-allowance-too-low-1-5312596 I think money wouldn’t be my barrier it’s the old boys network look of some councils

  2. The problems I’ve been encountering are that companies aren’t willing to hire a Councillor. It has gone from being a matter of pride to have a Councillor on staff to being a major hindrance to those looking for jobs. The first thought for an employer is “oh they are going to have time off work”

    If someone is going to go into public service at a young age they face the very real prospect of permanently damaging their future job prospects. That rather then the amount of allowance that someone gets is what puts young people off. I’ve personally been unemployed for over a year and couldn’t afford to be a Councillor if not for the support of my family. My Councillor’s allowance is supposed to be for helping me in my duties, instead it is taken off my Jobseekers Allowance and I am living off it.

    Then if you compare the allowances paid by different Council’s there is a huge discrepancy between councils of equal size even in the same region. Councillors and MP’s are the only groups I know of who actually have to vote on their own pay rise, it’s electoral suicide and even though the amount is set by an independent panel you get the response of “snouts in the trough”

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