While local council is often cited as the closest form of government to the people, it is critical that councillors and prospective candidates undertake new initiatives to help bridge the gap between council and the wider community.
I have recently called on the current Maroondah councillors (all of whom who have indicated that they are re-standing in the upcoming election) and prospective candidates to commit to creating their own web site and blog to provide a new form of communication to the community.
A Maroondah councillor has called on his colleagues to “move with the times”, encouraging them to create individual web pages and blogs to increase interaction between the council and residents.
I have been actively maintaining my website and blog since 2005, prior to being elected onto council. I have found the website to be extremely useful in conveying the activities undertaken as a councillor and encouraging people to contact me to discuss the issues that matter to them.
Loughnan’s Hill Ward Councillor Alex Makin said councillors and future candidates should move into the 21st century.
Local government has unfortunately been relatively slow to adopt new technologies and it is critical that councillors and candidates undertake this commitment to assist people in communicating with local councils.
“Local government is supposed to be the closet form of government to the community. Having an active web presence helps bridge the gap between the council and the community.”
An active web presence, going behind a static web page through the provision of an interactive blog provides an opportunity to leave comments and contact their local elected representatives.
He said residents could leave comments, ask questions, raise concerns and inquire about upcoming events within the council and community.
“It is another tool for the community to use, in addition to mobile phones and email.”
A web presence would augment rather than replace the more traditional forms of communication, such as telephone, email and postal mail. The more opportunities for the community to make contact, the easier it is for people to raise their concerns directly with elected representatives.
He said part of a councillor’s role was to keep up-to-date with technology.
“It also enables young people who may be disengaged with the community to have their say in a way they feel comfortable.”
Councillors have an obligation to keep up-to-date with technology and ensure that are representing the interests of their constituents. In particular younger people, as well as people with disabilities, tend to predominately use the Internet as a communication tool. A website complete with an interactive blog would assist these people in contacting their elected representatives and ensuring that are being heard.
It was encouraging to see that Cr Jo-anne Taylor stated her support for the idea and is considering establishing a website.
I will continue to maintain and update my website to ensure that the community is kept informed on the activities I undertake as an elected councillor and the community events that I attend.
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