I am a former Councillor in South Liverpool and have also been leader of the Liverpool Lib Dem Group. I also work as a Lecturer at Edge Hill University.
Paula Whilst I don’t disagree that it is interesting to know what councillors are doing. I would be more interested in better public interaction with yourself and other public representatives on the issues and decisions that effect Garston and Liverpool. It’s good to know that you’re fulfilling your role by going to meetings, launches or very important fact finding trips to the likes of Bilbao or MIPIM. But what I want to know is when planning, investment or strategy decisions are raised and when you’re actually considering them. I want to know when the PCT first approaches the council about new investments so that I can try and influence the councillor at that time not, as I suspect is usually the case when it’s already been discussed by councillors, officers and theirs party’s for several weeks and a position has been adopted. I want to know when councillors are working with officers on economic investment or regeneration plans so that I can try and influence them early not when the council officers have already produced the glossy policy on which they are conducting a skin deep consultation on set questions intended to get the answers they want. A scenario I’m all too familiar with from personal experience in Liverpool. I want dialogue with my councillors in a manner and time that suits modern life, not through the tired and inconvenient routes that we have. I went to Garston Neighbourhood committee a few times and what were the questions about, 90% were on dropping kerbs. Now that tells you something about who are able to go, not that we even have that now. Oh and its all well and good having surgeries, they will work well when people have a general problem with a service or complaint about neighbours, traffic etc. But many many people won’t feel comfortable going to see you or your colleagues on issues where they disagree with you or with council policy because they’ll be worried that like any other politician you’ll tell them what they think isn’t really true, or that they’ve not really understood the issue, or that its not actually like that at all and that in fact its the ones with the other colour badges that did it. Raise it with the opposition and your lot will dismiss it as being purely politically motivate whinging. People see politicians weasel about on tv and in the Daily Post and feel that you’re all the same, can’t blame them really. Think this is unjust, well can you hand on heart tell me that there are no councillors in your party whose behaviour recently has undermined trust in the system? Think Joe Andersons lot could make that promise? I don’t think so. But you can do something about it, we live in an age were communication should be easy. All councillors should be required to have a blog, they should also be required to post on it at least once a week, and not with press releases or the mix of pomp and bile that fills that occasional Focus flyer.Currently we have the Liverpool Citizens views site which issues council press releases and has no comments but I’m damn sure ticks some boxes and gets reported up to the LGA or DCLG as some kind of exemplar of citizen engagement. Consultation should be informal and ongoing; yes people would write things you don’t want to hear, questions would be asked that would embarrass the party and even the councillor, so what? Why have we ended up with a political class that is so frightened of being wrong about anything? Being wrong about something once is nothing to be ashamed of, doing it again because you, or worse your party, are scared to admit you made a mistake, should be sufficiently shameful to make people drop out of public life.You’re the executive member for ethical governance so surely these issues should be something you should lead on. So lead, converse with us on your blog about issues, needed even be local ones after all, what informs your opinion on global issues will also help us to understand and influence you. Use your blog to ask one questions respond to the answers and start a dialogue. Sometimes less can more. Don’t just post something once and let the passage of time sink it forever more under whatever news is current this week. Post a question, not the councils predetermined answer. I would end with some praise you have at least taken the choice to stand for election and to give up your time that does deserve credit but people vote for Paula Keavney Liberal Democrat. Not Liberal Democrat PO BOX XX, London and the reason for that is so that we can actually engage with a person, that we can talk to them, appeal to them and influence them.
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