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WARWICKSHIRE COUNCIL: Pupils could fill gap of Digital Communications Officer

WARWICKSHIRE COUNCIL: Pupils could fill gap of Digital Communications Officer

Schoolchildren and college students could be brought in to help Stratford District Council’s officers and councillors get to grips with Instagram.

The suggestion was made by Cllr Andy Crump (Con, Southam South) during the council’s first virtual meeting of the year – this week’s [WED] overview and scrutiny committee.

The meeting was told that the council failed to replace its digital communications officer when they left and that there was now a recruitment freeze in place.

Cllr Crump said: “Volunteering seems to be the key word at the moment and I was wondering if we could get some volunteers to help or, better still, work with the colleges or schools. We would be able to provide some work experience for them and in return they would be able to bring us into the 21st Century with some ideas which are well beyond my capability – I’ve only just put down my quill pen and velum.

“I think there’s an opportunity where we could engage with the local community and get the benefit of the technical wizardry of the young people. Seeing as the council doesn’t necessarily engage well with the younger people then it is a positive step. I think it could be a win/win.”

Cllr Penny-Anne O’Donnell (Con Ettington), who was chairing the meeting, gave the suggestion the thumbs up.

She said: “I think that’s visionary – a fantastic idea especially for the age group who don’t have a goal at the moment because it is so tough regarding the workplace.

“Perhaps it is worthwhile all members having training in Instagram – it is the way forward – to make sure we are up to date with what residents expect.”

The use of social media had been brought up during a discussion on the current council plan and a performance update. One area concerned a new proactive media and PR strategy which is expected to be put in place this month ahead of the budget-setting process,

Cllr Ed Fitter (Con, Quinton) said: “As we are developing a new media strategy I was wondering if there was any consideration to improve our Instagram page because I notice we are very good with our Facebook and Twitter but on Instagram we don’t have consistent messaging with the other two platforms.

“A lot of younger people use Instagram and it’s the only social media platform that I properly use”

Cllr Mark Cargill (Con, Alcester and Rural), portfolio holder for transformation and digital, said he would take the suggestion back to the council’s communications team, adding: “The next generation is only going to be interacting with us as an authority through mobile devices – the idea of a face-to-face meeting will be almost alien. So we do need to improve on that.”

Words: David Lawrence, Local Democracy Reporter

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