Last Saturday, I attended the Warwickshire and West Midlands Association of Local Councils (WALC) Annual Seminar in Warwick. This one day training event brings together representatives from many of the town and parish councils in Warwickshire and the West Midlands to listen to speeches, undertake training and share best practice with colleagues.
There were three main sessions that I attended: Standards for England undertook a training session on ethics, standards of behaviour and complaints about councillors; the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) led a session on the use of social media tools to improve communication with the public; and NALC also led a session aimed at improving the effectiveness of parish council meetings.
I found the session on the use of social media to be the most interesting of the day. It was led by NALC's Head of Communications and looked at how town and parish councils could use tools like Facebook, Twitter and blogs to communicate better with local residents.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many in attendance had not yet got their heads fully around this whole 'internet' thing! But what was encouraging for me was the way that even these councillors were beginning to recognise that the public was increasingly turning to websites, blogs and other social media to source information about their local council. I hope my blog can play its own small part in this process.
It was also useful to talk to others who had taken advantage of social media tools for their own local council. Councillor Philip Vial from Shipston-on-Stour Town Council uses his Twitter page to good effect, and I was interested to hear his views on how to make the most of an online presence.
Overall, it was a worthwhile event to attend (at a cost to the parish council of £35) and one that gave me much food for thought.
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