Since Thursday’s GCCD Assembly meeting I have been contacted by quite a few people who are very frustrated by how difficult it is to get your voice heard by the Assembly and the Board.
I share your frustrations. Even when it is possible to get something accepted by the Assembly (and that is a pretty up hill struggle) there is no guarantee what so ever that it will be accepted by the Board. My experience so far has been that the Board rejects most recommendations from the Assembly which were not part of the original proposals. The 2 important exceptions have been the Call for Evidence and the Design Guide.
Having said that there are ways, other than putting questions to the 2 committees, in which we can strive to influence them. Here is my guide to ‘Getting your Voice Heard”.
- Write to the Cambridge News. All elected members and probably most officers read the letters page everyday. It is an excellent means for us of assessing public feeling and of identifying causes which may win public support as well as a great way for you to recruit support for your cause.
- Hold a rally or demonstration. This is a sure fire way to get your cause on the local TV or radio and in the newspaper. Do remember to invite Assembly and Board members to join you - elected representatives love a photo opportunity. You can demonstrate either at the place you are concerned about or where the meeting is being held.
- Write individually to Board and Assembly members. The good ones will always reply and then you have established a communication channel.
- Lobby your elected members including your MP. If they are worth their salt these people will then lobby their colleagues on the Assembly and Board on your behalf. If they do not - you might reconsider who to vote for next time.
- Join a pressure group or political group. The good ones carry weight as they have established a reputation and often have good media presences.
- Prepare a petition. Very easy to do on line these days and to promote through social media. Also a good way to grab the media’s attention. Deliver it en masse in a blaze of publicity.
- Ask an Assembly member to put a question on your behalf. This will then allow the issue to be debated by members rather than just answered by officers.
- Submit an FOI. If you do not think that you are being told the truth about an issue then an FOI will get you all the information held on it by the council.
- Attend the proposed Liaison Forums. Stakeholders are being invited to attend these by the local members but we were told that they were public meetings so anyone can go.
- Submit questions to your Neighbourhood or Parish Meeting. Aim to have your concerns taken forward by the elected members.
- Call a Public Meeting on one specific issue and invite Assembly and Board Members and your local elected members to attend. Invite the press.
- Arrange a walk or cycle around a controversial area to highlight your concerns. Invite Assembly and Board members and elected representatives to attend. Also the press.
- Become a member of the Assembly or the Board. Not such a stupid idea when you realise that we have County Council elections next year and City and District the year after. If you do not want to stand for election yourself and you do not think the current incumbent is representing your priorities well enough then find someone who will and help promote them.
- Submit Questions to the Board and The Assembly. Keep on submitting questions but keep them short and to the point.