Oct
19

The final furlong

posted on October 19th 2006 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

Well it’s been a gruelling couple of weeks for the councillors (and those of us working
behind the scenes too! No, no, it’s fine, we don’t want sympathy, we do it for
the love of democracy. I seem to remember). But hopefully an interesting,
entertaining and inspiring one for the councillors and the young people taking part.

We’re all on tenterhooks now to find out who’ll win. The councillors even more so. My
moderators have been staying after their shifts to wait for Shane to announce
the results, young people (and councillors) have been popping into evening live
chats to ask us for a heads up. And some of the quotes from councillors show
they really care about the event.:-

“my wife says im getting to involved and taking it too seriously!! i say that the young
people are our future if we ignore them there is no future. im absolutely
loving it!! vote BACKHOUSE!!”

Students keep asking councillors what they’ll do if they win, one reply was, “the
politically correct answer is to say that taking part is the main thing but
since im not politically correct id be over the moon and would celebrate with a
coulpe of pints and a chip cob in the redgate on westfield lane.” We’re sorry Cllr Eddie
Smith, you were a worthy contestant, and we hope you still enjoyed your pint
and chip cob, you’ve certainly earned it!

Councillors have even been re-arranging their lives around the event. And we’re delighted
to hear how far our fame has spread.:-

“I have managed to rearrange my medical appointment (I told the receptionist I was in
IAC and she was most impressed!) So I can do the chat as planned tomorrow
morning. Panic Over! Problem sorted.”

Of course, that fame has been helped by the great press coverage we’ve got. We’ve
been delighted this year by how the press have picked up on the event. We’ve
been on BBCi Wales, BBCi Cumbria,
local press and even mentioned on Channel 4 news! I hope this helps the message get out
about how much great engagement you can get from an essentially pretty simple
tool.

We’ve had questions on everything from ID cards and the Iraq war to the councillors’ pets
and if they fall out with their fellow councillors or get on with them. I love the latter sort of question because it shows that young people are really using the event to get inside what it’s like to be a councillor.

Hopefully this humanises local democracy – it becomes something they can see themselves
getting involved in if they want, not something reserved for particular sorts
of people. My best friend works as a parliamentary liaison officer for a large
charity, when I told her about this she said, “You know, that’s what I really
want to know about MPs – how much are they mates really, what the relationships
are like – but you never feel you can ask so you have to make small talk about
pensions policy instead”. Maybe we need IAC for adults too?

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