Friday, 24 February 2017

Voter engagement

The Web is changing things.
There has been a number of Facebook debates I have been involved with in the last few weeks, one thing that became clear was that some residents were complaining that I or other Local Councillors
hadn’t knocked on their door during the election of 2015.

In previous elections I had indeed tried to get round all houses, succeeding to a degree, but not quite coming everyone.  The Electoral Commission in their infinite wisdom decided to joint Arundel Ward & Walberton wards together Creating a monster ward with 13 parishes.

Previously when I represented the Arundel ward which had 6 parishes I always prided myself on getting round all my Parish’s attending their meetings and engaging with the Parish Councils,  Norman Dingemans who covered the previous Walberton ward did the same.

Now we have this monster ward which is 25% in geographical terms of the entire Arun District, it’s a crazy situation created by a Bureaucrat in London without any common sense,  Norman & I argued that we should have less Councillors representing smaller single wards, we could have saved £250k a year and made our wards our own serving and being judged for our work ethic by the voters.

Both I and Norman made representations in 2012 to the electoral Commission arguing this, but as with most Bureaucrats they did not listen but drove on with their cunning plans.

Our Political Parties are in decline, as a Councillor I don’t have as many volunteers to help in campaigns, we still have a dedicated bunch, but it’s hard enough to deliver one leaflet to every house, let alone knocking on every door.

So to adjust to the new realities I have found new ways to communicate, I use Social Media and this article to update you and have a conversation, I know it’s a bit one sided, but i am happy to engage by email, Social Media etc.

Political Parties are starting to move to a digital platform and the SNP have been one of the more successful advocates of this, hence their success in recent elections.  Like it or not, 'this is the future and this will increasingly become the way way of communicating with the electorate, posting online surveys, running online campaigns and engaging digitally.

Interestingly, one of the biggest growth areas on the internet is the older user, my mother who is 80 years old uses her IPad and IPhone, similarly a lot of medical and social care will be delivered this way in the future, a brave new world?  Until next month

Paul Dendle is Arundel & Walberton Ward & Cabinet Member on Arun District Council. Email cllr.paul.dendle@arun.gov.uk. Web: www.pauldendle.org

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