Thinkpiece about community engagement, Kate Foale
The most positive outcome of the COVID 19 pandemic has been, for me, the burgeoning of the community coming together to help each other and especially those who are vulnerable or lonely. Beeston is a prime example and is one of the reasons why I love being a County Councillor here. No-one stands back to leave it to others, Beeston folk get stuck in.
This is something we should cherish and keep. Community engagement has long been a passion of mine, and now seems a perfect time to find ways to do it properly and comprehensively, what works well and what doesn’t. We have some good meetings in Beeston: CAT meetings, Civic Society meetings, AGMs for Broxtowe CAB, and Middle Street Resource Centre to name just a few. So we are given the chance to have our say, get involved, and take action where needed. But is this enough if we are going to involve everyone in decisions that affect our community and the environment we are all living and working in?
Many things affect how well local Councillors get to know and understand their community. Social media, meetings described above, knocking on doors, keeping in touch by email and ‘phone, membership of governing bodies and boards of trustees. All good work and us Labour Councillors do an awful lot of it! But is it enough and is it reaching everyone? Our local businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, how can we enable them to regenerate and sustain their business in the long term? How can we get to people who don’t have the time, confidence or faith in politicians to hear their voice?
I put a question at a committee meeting early this year, asking for a full audit of how the County Council undertakes public consultation. In my experience it isn’t done very well. Events since have meant I have yet to get a response but I will pursue it when the time is right.
Your thoughts would be very welcome.
Kate Foale, Councillor for Beeston Central and Rylands.
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