JIS News

The St. Thomas Parish Council is enjoying renewed success in its effort at good local governance through its ‘Taking the Council to the People’ initiative.
Secretary Manager, Clinton Gordon told JIS News that three years ago the Council decided to take its monthly meetings to various communities thrice per year, adding that it has been yielding significant benefits thus far.
“The whole thing comes from the idea that part of what we must do is increase the level of participation of people in the Council, [by] taking the involvement beyond those few groups and persons who are regulars to make the ordinary man in the street feel a part of the process,” he explained.
This, Mr. Gordon informed, facilitates citizens gaining first hand experience of the Council’s operations aside from what is seen on television. “People also see that, not because their Councillor came to Council and asked for something, [it necessarily] means that it will be done as there is a process of prioritisation,” he outlined.
He further said the meetings also afford Councillors an opportunity to identify and shortlist matters for which action is to be taken, adding that citizens will also see consensus among Councillors from opposing sides on issues of common interest in communities.
Mr. Gordon said community involvement was usually a simple process. He explained that posters are placed at strategic locations such as shopping centres, churches, youth clubs, post offices, police stations, and community events, inviting persons or groups with concerns to submit same in writing to the Secretary Manager within seven days of the scheduled meeting. This for consideration and discussion during meetings.
Regarding the programme’s resonance among citizens, Mr. Gordon said: “it demonstrates that people have an interest, and if they are given a chance they will become involved in the governance process.”
“We see it as part of the realization of the reform process where people become more involved, and right away we get real feedback because all of the political and non-political groupings put forward their views in a decent, organized manner,” he told JIS News.
The Secretary Manager encouraged other Parish Councils to examine this strategy and give consideration to adapting it, as a means of expanding local governance and facilitating greater involvement by citizens in the process. This, he said, as individuals want to see their Councillor working to advance the community’s interest.
The next ‘community’ Council meeting is scheduled for November in White Horses.

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