For a town council without a “proper” website – nested instead within the excellent and informative faversham.org – it may sound like a foolish suggestion for Faversham Town Council to become a world-leader in the field of online citizen engagement. Yet the Council’s relative weakness in this area may be an unexpected asset because, with no existing infrastructure, there is no technology inertia. All that’s needed is the desire to act.
Elsewhere in the world – as I’m currently discovering in New Zealand – great strides are being taken to transform democracy from being (or at least being perceived to be) a remote, top down process to one that truly embraces the views of the electorate. Continue reading Could Faversham be the most engaging online council in the world?
I’ve written previously about the importance of having what I’ve called a “Faversham Conversation“: a public discussion about Faversham’s future. Here are 10 suggested principles that could be followed to make sure this discussion happens effectively.
1. On land and online
The Faversham Conversation should happen through face-to-face meetings as well as social media. Different people have different preferences. The Faversham Conversation must be inclusive.
The Faversham Conversation should not start and stop with periods of inactivity in between but should instead be occurring all the time. After all, this is what is happening “on the street”: people are continuously discussing Faversham’s past, present and future. The Faversham Conversation should channel this non-stop flow of ideas and opinions.
An interesting discussion has been sparked over the weekend, following the Faversham Times’ front-page article on the bridge over the A2 at the entrance to the Abbey School.
Apparently, the readers’ poll in the Times has “gone crazy” with responses, attracting more interest than the Queen’s visit to Canterbury.
You can find the article and poll here.
Two parallel discussions are currently taking place on Streetlife and on Facebook. Warning – the Facebook discussion does contain some abuse (which is a pity) but my quick analysis of it shows that, of the 59 respondents to date that express a preference, 69% want something done versus 31% who don’t. Of course this result needs to be taken with a pinch of salt because it’s a discussion not a poll and people weren’t given a list of options.
So, it will be interesting to see the results of the Canterbury Times poll, which hopefully will come out in the next few days.
Whatever you think of the 2015/16 Business Plan’s three priorities (Magna Carta, the Creek, the Guildhall) the fact is that, geographically, these projects cover a limited part of Faversham’s overall footprint as a town: two of the three (Magna Carta and the Guildhall) are town centre projects; all three fall within Abbey Ward, with the Creek also affecting Davington Ward.
Of course there is a reasonable argument that the town centre should be prioritised because it is the most important part of the town, with its social and economic “centrality”. You might say, “All roads lead to the town centre” – and many do. Or, “This is where the shops are” – and most are.
But not every road and every shop.
To be truly representative, the Business Plan should encompass Faversham’s geographical entirety.
To do so, priorities should be identified outside the town centre: in St Ann’s Ward and Watling Ward, as well as elsewhere in Davington and Abbey Wards.
So what should the priorities be in each of the different wards?
I’m interested to hear what you think they are, and not only in St Ann’s Ward, where I’m standing for election but also throughout the whole of the town.
Please send me a message to let me know your ideas. I’ll list your suggestions on this website: letting you have your say and letting you see what other people think.
Let’s start the Faversham Conversation I suggested in my previous post and, in doing so, shape a Business Plan that extends from the centre to the edges of Faversham.
A review of governance was one of the three key priorities of Faversham Town Council’s Business Plan for 2014/15. However, the change that has happened under the Business Plan appears to have been largely, if not entirely, administrative (see the progress report in Annex A of the 2015/16 Business Plan)
This is not of itself a bad thing. Administrative changes that produce operational efficiencies can be helpful. But my concern is this:
– administration is not the same as governance.
Faversham certainly needs strong administration but it needs even stronger leadership. More than that, it needs informed leadership: a Town Council that is advised not only by the administration but also by the electorate. Continue reading On governance – the need for a “Faversham Conversation”
I care greatly about Faversham and believe I have something to offer the Town Council.
As an architect and urban planner, I have skills and experience that I think would benefit the creation of plans for Faversham’s future. I have been involved in projects such as Faversham 2020 and I have contributed to the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan.
I lead a campaign against the painting of Yellow Lines in Faversham’s historic and very beautiful town centre – this has opened my eyes to the strength and depth of passion to keep the town looking attractive to residents and visitors alike. Continue reading Why I’m standing for Faversham Town Council