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Should councillors hold public meetings?

Significant chunks of my ward have active residents associations, whose AGMs I, and my fellow ward councillors, attend. Also we do lots of canvassing. We hold monthly surgeries. We hold several Conservative fund raising drinks parties a year around the ward - where members are encouraged to bring along friends and neighbours who are non members.

But we have not hosted public meetings in our ward. Should we? The Conservative Councillors Association recommend it in their pamphlet "Engaging with your constituents" (available to CCA members by emailing [email protected].) They say "it is a great way to give local people the chance to voice their concerns. They also allow you to reach out to the wider community and to explain what measures you are taking to help your residents."

The CCA suggest publicising it via an In Touch leaflet (as such leaflets should be distributed regularly anyway this would not constitute extra work), asking the local press to print details, inviting Conservative members, Residents associations, Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators, etc. They also suggest that others who might be able to help with queries (local housing officer, the local Safer Neighbourhood Team police sergeant) be invited. They suggest providing some refreshments and booking a hall for "reasonably sized audience"

I suppose a concern is whether anyone would turn up. But then some may appreciate being asked even if they don't choose to go along. Also some borough wide public meetings hosted by the Council at the Town Hall (on matters such Heathrow expansion and Thames Water's proposed Super Sewer) have been well attended - as have a series of Leader Listen meetings held by the Council leader in each ward.

Should a public meeting hosted by ward councllors be an annual event? Or for a specific issue? Or not at all? I would be interested in knowing about the experiences of others. 


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