Twitter and local councils

Whilst the use of social media/networking is steadily growing in local government, it would be fair to say that it hasn’t exactly exploded within the first tier of local government. This may not be such a bad thing as local (parish and town) councils are cautious and risk averse creatures, perhaps rightly so many would argue.

However some people in our (small and almost perfectly formed) bit of local government are dipping their toes in this arena, and of those some are really making good use of technology to make connections and have conversations in new ways.

I started blogging over a year ago, and to be fair with limited success, with time being my biggest constraint. That’s why I concur with much of what Dave Briggs (of Learning Pool and other fame) blogged about this week in his post on the state of the local government blogosphere:

NALC, along with other partners to the Quality Parishes Scheme (more information at, have placed communications and community engagement at the heart of the initiative, including online communications. We strongly encourage local councils to have an email address and a website and to make use of blogs as well. So I think it’s only right that I blog more regularly in 2010 to do my bit (there you go, my first New Year resolution!).

But what I find encouraging about recent figures from our national database project is that of the 9,000 odd local councils in England, around 4 in 10 now have websites, with roughly 8 in 10 on email. Progress is being made to move from quill and ink hadwritten minutes to making use of new technology. This is a good thing and there is still someway to go before all local councils (let alone all 80,000 or so local councillors) are fully online. Until then I think showing the benefits of technology and from being online, along with sharing good practice is important, which kind of brings me round to one of the points of this post.

Something I have taken a real liking to this year is Twitter. I have been thinking about whether micro-blogging maybe suits me more than blogging, but I’m still committed to doing better on the latter. I’ve found making new connections across the public service spectrum (and beyond), as well as being able to share and talk about our work through this simple online platform hugely valuable. So the point of this post is to signpost to two things; the first being a simple guide to Twitter; the second being a kind of shortcut to some people using Twitter who are working in and with the first tier of local government.

I mentioned Dave Briggs earlier and he’s written a great handy guide to Twitter for Learning Pool. So I’d encourage local councils, councillors, officers and county associations to check it out:

As I said, there are plenty of people making pretty effective use of Twitter and below are just some of those I would recommend following (and which is by no means an exhaustive list!) especially if you are new to Twitter or want to follow more people working in and around the grass roots of our local democracy:

@JWinLickey @ChALC @ @alanj0nes @neilevan5 @ralvin @fionawordsbird @Davepmyoung @timprater @stonepc @talk2crispin @sarahevansk @PhilipVial @E11ie5 @loudmouthman @keithdwilliams

I haven’t provided a summary or more details of who they are and why you should follow them so check out their profiles and some of their recent tweets and decide for yourself. Oh, I’m @JustinGriggs in case you want to follow me too 😉

Merry Christmas, Happy Tweeting and here’s to keeping online conversations going in the New Year.

One comment

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head Justin: Twitter is great for making connections.

    This year you’ve featured me in a leaflet designed to bust the stereotypes people have of what a councillor is like; I’ve become a script consultant for the Archers; and when I desperately needed advice on helping a friend with a severe mental illness episode, Twitter came to the rescue.

    There are a lot of time-wasters on Twitter, Facebook, etc … just as there are in real life. It’s up to us ‘normal’ ones (ha!) to keep it sane, smart and savvy.

    Fiona Cowan
    Chairman, Collyweston Parish Council
    and ‘Lying Scotsman’ on Facebook!

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