Cllr Tony Tomkinson, from Clavering in Norfolk, started blogging in January 2008 as part of the civicsurf project. His main objective was to use his blog to maintain communications with the 25 parish clerks in his constituency.
He used the blog to inform readers of developments from Norfolk County Council that affected his area. In March he wrote about the possibility of a gravel pit in the village of Haddiscoe. He had been to a public meeting the night before attended by over 100 people from the village. Over the following week Tony had 400 people visit his blog and within four weeks 37 comments had been left on the post.
I’m sure some of the people leaving comments had been to the meeting but by using the blog they are able to ensure their views are in the public domain. Possibly some had not been able get to speak at the meeting. Also of interest is that people from outside the village were able to contribute including those with experience of gravel pits.
The post is a superb example of how using a blog a civic leader can gather considered and in-depth views from a wide range of people with a wide range of views. The blog hasn’t replaced the village public meeting but it has complemented it very well. Although Tony is prevented by his position as a councillor from expressing an opinion before the Planning committee meeting, he is providing leadership by encouraging discussion and opinion through having a place for that discussion to take place.