Down District Council has got to be one of the richest cross party offerings (I suspect we may be back this way for another Councillor of the Week) on Councillor.info. But this week, the spotlight has to go to the youthful SDLP Chair Colin McGrath. Not least for the fact that he’s being trimming his excellent video diary according to the feedback he’s been getting from constituents. Although my tip would be to keep it short as possible Colin! I particularly like the way he has extended the standard pages of the Councillor.info template and has pre-empted on the questions that many want to know the answer to by either are afraid, or don’t know who to ask. How much do you get as a local councillor? In an age of public cynicism, such a pre-emptive strike is very useful!
He’s got a page of embedded links to past video diaries. There’s a question on every page on whether Downpatrick should have a new Leisure Centre or not.
The news feed is good and regularly updated, giving the reader the feel that this councillor is definitely at home and contactable through the site. Although they could do with a little more of an informal introductions to them.
He’s also activated the photo gallery, although here I think he might look at some of the galleries of his council colleagues, for instance Mickey Coogan in Drumgooland, or this shot of Cadogan Enright by a heavily polluted river in Downpatrick. to look for greater constituency (and hopefully media) impacts.
Gradually we are seeing councillors extending the use of technology in their role as public representatives. In particular Colin’s use of the video diary demonstrates his capacity and willingness to do the thing that new technology allows him to do over and above anything else. And that’s to engage directly with the voters that matter to him, on the ground.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty