Author Archives: huxley06

About huxley06

Working for Public-i in digital democracy nationally and also as a Ward Councillor in Brighton. Mum and step-mum to two lovely kids. Follow me @huxley06

Life after winning – do you enjoy it?

huxley06

I have been asked a lot recently how much I enjoy being a Councillor. The first set of questioners are our recently selected candidates who I meet at social events and campaigning. Yesterday, the legal team at the Council I serve as a Councillor asked me to describe life as a new Councillor.

DSC02439

It is really difficult to describe.

The most similar life experience was my first year as a mother. I spent it fretting, tired, anxious I would make a mistake. Loving her and desperately keen to be the best I could be. I didn’t relax once. I never felt like I was doing enough, doing it right and never ever got enough sleep or saw my friends as much as I used to. I guess this could be unique to me…or maybe others if they looked back would say the same. The learning curve is enormous, no matter…

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Getting beyond Get On Twitter – leadership in digital era

Policing Social CItizens

OS building

So I pitched a session at UK Bluelight Camp today to understand what delegates thought that 999 leaders needed to acquire in order to make services that will be fit for a digital era: we need to think what impact is social technology having on society and how to make our services fit for 10 and 20 years time. This is also relevant to the Networked Councillors programme that I work on. Any form of public leadership really.

The group found it truly painful to get beyond  – “they need to use twitter and effectively. And some do. And some don’t.” We had social media surveillance discussions, we had PR discussions, we had front line morale discussions. We didn’t really get far beyond twitter to be honest. I threw in “imagine how technology in homes for health and social care could be used for preventing crime and fire”, “what if…

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Let me put you in the picture…

huxley06

This is a very brief post reflecting on the images that myself and some of the Councillors I follow share via twitter. I was curious to see what the images we share say about us and our communities.

Here are my campaign photos taken and shared during the by-election:

HEG Campaign photos

Here are some recent photos which demonstrate my blurred identity – at a women’s football match, catching up on campaign news with a colleague in my kitchen, meeting a Special Constable …generally being a mum and in the spirit of the internet being a bit random:

Emma blurred identity

Here are some sets from other Councillors:

This is Councillor Ken from Solihull’s recent photos:

Cllr Ken Photos

I love that Ken shares pictures of his dog and his use of the local area. I think many people would enjoy these photos and it would help his desire to engage with people on subjects they care about.

Here…

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Setting up a Councillor Blog – My experiences by @Huxley06

As a brand new Councillor, and a keen evangelist for all social tools and as many ways to connect as possible, I was keen to blog but want to get content and style fit for purpose. So I considered these questions:

  • Who am I blogging for?
  •  Why am I blogging?
  • Where can I find ideas about approach and style?

Who am I blogging for?

My primary audience is definitely my ward communities. I have twitter to talk to work and other connections; I have facebook to connect with activists. Although, I have to acknowledge that there is a secondary set of audiences:

  • Activists (and I want them to be motivated to come out and help me campaign when I need it and also to feel informed about what I have done)
  • Opposition parties (I need to be aware that they will look for mistakes especially nearer election time)
  • Officers – Council officers will read this and my tone must not demotivate them even when I am challenging on issue
  •  Journalists – another local councillor from a different party regularly finds his blog posts in the headlines. There was an interesting twitter exchange between him and the journalist about legalities of using most of a blog post in a story – it is legal btw.

Why am I blogging?  

         Transparency and accountability – First, I believe its right to report back to the ward on how I am spending my time, and how I am prioritising issues.

         Open thinking – I will also describe my approach. For example, I think a ‘back to the floor’ approach essential in understanding the impact of policies at the sharp end. I am also enthusiastic about learning from others and so is my group leader. We will be doing a series of study visits to other councils soon. I am going to blog my experiences…this way, ward communities will understand the steps towards policy formulation as it will be laid out in almost real time.

         Sharing stories – It is important to reflect the community back to itself through photos and stories. This kind of evidence helps when developing a policy which some people aren’t affected by. If they can see that it affects their neighbours and how, they will support me putting time into it. It also demonstrates that I am listening and, also important, who I am listening to.

There are probably other benefits but these are the ones that popped into my mind as my priorities.

Ideas for approach and style

I was looking for a cross party mix of examples, also ones that are more ward-focused than focused at another audience (eg. Politicos)

Brighton and Hove Cllr Graham Cox (Conservative) This blog is very friendly and takes a largely ‘educational’ approach… demystifying decisions and council procedures for the average person ultimately, of course to persuade. Cllr Cox also describes his impact.

Cornwall Cllr Jeremy Rowe (Lib Dem) This blog, at least, for me seemed outwardly focused and very much an opposition style, reporting and critiquing another party. It’s not an approach I would take, but if my secondary audiences (activists, journalists)  were the primary audience…then I suspect it would be very effective.

Devon Cllr Claire Wright (Independent) I was keen to have an example of an Independent Councillor and I really like Claire’s. It’s very clear, she is making herself accountable and people are commenting on her blog which is difficult to achieve. I suppose demographically I relate to Claire too and her photos and bio are very engaging and friendly.

Kirklees Cllr Andrew Cooper (Green) Here I particularly liked the Annual Report post that Andrew does. It’s a nice way of being accountable to his ward. There is a lot of policy narrative on this blog as well, which isn’t, yet, in my list of objectives.

Torbay Cllr Alison Hernandez (Conservative) use of audioboo interviews which is very effective for the sharing of evidence, and the showing people who she is listening to element of my objectives.

Anyway, if you are curious, here is my first post!

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