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Market Drayton Town Council looks to enter digital age

By Rob Smith | Market Drayton | News | Published:

Market Drayton's town council could soon be running a social media page and recording its meetings after councillors agreed to look into new ways to communicate.

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The issue of social media was discussed at a committee meeting and a number of councillors said it would benefit the council and the public to have an information page on Facebook to share information about events in the town as well as town council business.

In the same meeting of Market Drayton Town Council's services & facilities committee, they agreed to begin recording audio from meetings and releasing it online, in an attempt to get more Market Drayton people engaged in town council matters.

Councillor Mark Whittle said: "In this day and age [Facebook] is something we have to look at. 99 per cent of the kids use Facebook or Twitter or some social media and their parents are doing the exact same.

"We need to keep people up to date on a daily basis. I think it's the way to go forward."

Councillor Tim Beckett suggested the council should trial an information-only page carrying the minutes of meetings and with contact details for the council, but without the capacity for members of the public to comment directly.

Councillor Mike Smith, who runs the Drayton Crier Facebook group for sharing information, said that the site was "very configurable" and could be tweaked to suit the council's needs.

"If you want to you could have a message button on there which would allow them to message the admin, if you don't want to do that you could get rid of the message button."

He said that the Drayton Crier received 47,500 posts, comments and reactions in a 28-day period, compared to the town council website's 1,068 hits in 28 days.

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"It does show the popularity of Facebook," he said. The group has about 14,000 members.

Committee chair Roy Aldcroft proposed setting up a working party to look into the idea. The councillors on that party will be Mike Smith, Mark Whittle and Steve Glover.

'No interest from the public'

Then the councillors began discussing the possibility of live streaming or recording council meetings and making the recordings available online.

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A number of councillors pointed out that very few meetings have any members of the public attend and questioned whether there would be an audience for the recordings.

Mayor Roger Smith said: "We get no interest from members of the public coming into the meetings. Why is it then that people are going to sit down and watch the meetings being streamed?"

He did say that recording would be a more viable choice than live streaming.

Councillor Ian Nellins said: "Who's going to watch it? I think it would be a waste of time."

But Councillor Whittle said it would give townspeople a chance to "see how their councillors behave".

Councillor Mike Smith said that people who had been working all day would be more likely to engage and listen to recordings if they could do it from home, rather than have to travel to the town hall in Frogmore Road.

The councillors did agree to trial a 360-degree microphone and record the audio from the meetings. They will look again once the device is set up in the new year.

Rob Smith

By Rob Smith
Reporter

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based at Ketley in Telford.

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