The Inside the Council column with Councillor George Robinson

Councillor George Robinson
Councillor George Robinson

A council of the people, by the people, for the people. Yes, this sounds cheesy.

Yet clichés aside, imagine a future council where Calderdale residents can provide ideas to improve services, and also have ownership over the process in implementing their very own ideas.

Bin Stickers: This idea could stop cars parking on pavements,

Bin Stickers: This idea could stop cars parking on pavements,

This would work similar to a trustee-director relationship. Now that would be a council for the future.

This concept has developed since chairing last week’s Ward Forum. We do things differently in the Hipperholme and Lightcliffe Ward. Residents at the forum are positive, raising problems but also providing solutions. I’m proud of this, and this approach has scope. Residents could be involved in implementing their own ideas. To give you an idea of how this would work, I have provided a brief flavour of some points raised in the meeting below.

Speeding and pavement parking are age old issues.

There are no easy fixes here, as these issues are a consequence of driver habits.

At the forum, Bailiff Bridge’s Malcolm Silkstone raised the ingenious idea of wheelie bin stickers. The concept is simple, providing residents with stickers for their wheelie bins saying ‘Slow Down’, or ‘No Pavement Parking’ to exert peer pressure motorists.

This idea may work or it may not, nonetheless I admire the creativity.

The council should explore the idea. Imagine, the council would undertake due diligence with strategic tests.

If the idea passes the tests, then residents themselves could help implement the proposal. In turn, the residents would be motivated as their idea has transpired into a reality. It would also ease resource pressure on the council, turning the council into a process facilitator. Another resident noted a recent missed refuse collection, and suggested a mobile app to provide a direct link between residents and Calderdale Council.

The Council could send out notifications regarding service delivery through the app, and residents could also report things directly. This would make information distribution and also reporting seamless.

The Council could pin point the reported issue easily, creating efficiency in service delivery. Residents could also upload photos of the issue without hassle. When the issue is solved, the council would send a notification to all opted-in residents within a geographical location. This could work for events too. Events could be advertised on the app, improving accessibility to local events for residents whilst boosting tourism. Taking this idea to the extreme, the app could be self-funded through advertising, mitigating the impact on the taxpayer. Could Calderdale Council also use this as an income generator, selling the platform rights to other council districts for use in their own areas?

If the concept is to be implemented, interested residents could oversee the process in a trustee – director relationship model as discussed above.

This analysis is a flavour in how this approach could work, demonstrating how the council can build on the knowledge, creativity and talent of residents. These ideas stemmed from just one ward forum. Let’s harness ideas, engage with concepts and utilise residents in bringing their ideas into fruition.