Idea Inspired by Jeremy Corbyn #LocalLeadership

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Not sure if it is egotistical of me to write a #LocalLeadership blog post about my own leadership skills but I think if I were to ask influential boss women like Nan Solane, Rachel Tripp or Lyn Brown I think they would say “WRITE IT SEYI! “.. ..so I am :). Rachel would actually say something like… “Don’t just write about things after they happen, it’s okay to write a in progress post too”- a good tip for bloggers!

I’m a locally elected Councillor in the best ward in Newham (yes I am biased) with my colleagues Cllr Rachel Tripp and Cllr Anam Islam (we are literally the perfect diversity poster picture, mum of three, Bangladeshi East End lad, Black young woman). Over the last two years and 8 months, I’ve tried various ways to do politics a bit differently, this has included Skype and pop-up advice surgeries, blogging and digital engagement in decision-making. You can read about the various things me and my colleagues have tried here. I’ll be sharing a new post called “Things New Councillors should do!” soon.

As a councillor we have the right to ask two questions to either the Mayor or council at our full council meeting. Following my visit to Emmanuel Church on Romford Road on Christmas Day I was stunned at the number of homeless and vulnerable members of Forest Gate and also with the new government grant awarded to Newham  I will be asking a question around homelessness, our plans and how we will partner with third sector in delivering services and support.

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But I had been struggling to think of a good second question. I didn’t want to ask a random question but then didn’t want to waste the opportunity. Then this idea came to me, like for many, in the shower (did you know this has been scientifically backed up!)  and with the seed of inspiration planted by Jezza’s use of public questions during Prime Minster Question Time I thought why not ask Forest Gate North ward residents what they would like me to ask?  What ever people may think of Jeremy Corbyn I think this was a brilliant initiative. It’s time for us to do politics differently and I believe this starts with local leadership in local government.

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In Newham and I’m sure this is similar in many other local councils, the voter turnout in the last election was only 40% that means the majority of Newham residents didn’t engage with the local elections. Voter turnout will probably be even worse come 2018 elections because of Cameron‘s silly voter registration policy. But! I believe this should push us to do even more to engage more local people in local democracy and local government by doing the simple things like…

  1. Asking the public to submit questions they would like you to ask/find out.
  2. Holding public discussion forums on specific topics. We had one on our response to the refugee crisis, what we want from our next London Mayor, one for youth and young adults, Waste and Environment, Public Realm and Rachel is hoping to do on one planning in the near future.
  3. Forming local community groups. Two years ago I helped set up Friends of Maryland which are now a flourishing independent group of residents and local businesses with an annual Christmas tree ;).
  4. Asking residents*1 questions, they have ideas and answers and in with this new idea I’ve learnt they also have really interesting questions that need raising.
  5. Digital engagement via social media. But be careful to not be over reliant on this. Not everyone is on the internet.
  6. Doorknocking residents, introducing yourself and asking them how things are going in their local neighbourhood.
  7. Transparency, tell residents what you’re up to. The more you tell them the most they are forced to listen 😉

*1 Make sure the residents you are engaging represent the diverse nature of your area- age, race, culture and gender etc!

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