Reaching the Public

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As some of you may know, the Parish Council had a display stand at the recent Fete, indeed you may well have been one of the many people who came along to have a look. The two most common questions asked while I was on the stand were '"What exactly do the Parish Council do?" and "How exactly do you communicate with the residents of the Parish?'"
I hope that we were able to give some satisfactory answers.

When you are on an organisation like the Parish Council, one which has a formal, legal existence and has been around for a long time, it is easy to think that everyone must just 'know' what you do. Meetings are always open to the public and agendas and minutes are public documents, so it is easy to assume that this knowledge has somehow percolated out. Given that there are not always enough nominations for all the places at election time and thus those standing are deemed to be elected, then the Council can become rather detached.

A Parish Council is the first layer of our democratic system and though powers are limited they do have the ability to tell those with power, Cw&C or the Utility companies for example, both what the parish would like to see done and what needs doing in the future.

Parish Councils display wonderful examples of persistence and tenacity, constantly asking — nagging? — for things to be improved, or indeed, for things simply to be done as promised. The Parish Council comments on all planning applications and tries to maintain the character and look of the place, but also tries to anticipate and influence things that might be happening in the future. The possibility of more development in the village is a case in point.

The Parish Council has certainly improved its ability to reach more people. As well as the Tarvin Times, delivered to every household 4 times a year, the Council has increased its online presence by placing the door to all its activities bang in the middle of Tarvin Online's home page. They also decided to have some of their deliberations and decisions written up as stories for the Village website, hopefully without some of the formal language that is needed for Minutes.

This year the Annual Parish meeting was held in the centre of the village on a Saturday morning and the attendance, while not large, was better than last year.
So what else can we do, should we do?
Might regular 'surgeries' help to bring the Parish Council closer to residents and their issues? Some Councils use podcasts and even videos of meetings, are we ready for that yet?
Do you know what your Councillors look like? Maybe some mug shots of us in public places would at least make the Councillors appear as real people and not just names.

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All Councillors join to put something back into the community they live in, but we do need you, the public, to tell us if we are succeeding.

Ed Please Note — These are my personal opinions and do not reflect Parish Council policy.