Friday, 31 October 2008

"I'm a Councillor..." The verdict

Gallomanor, the company that organised "I'm a Councillor, get me out of here", have sent us their evaluation of this year's event. I have copied it below.
As you can see, Darlington kids and councillors were the hardest working of all the participating Councils and together we did "stupendously well".

Much of the credit for this goes to Paul Dalton from Democratic Services.

No doubt one Labour Councillor in particular will have something sarcastic to say about the fact that I gave the best answer to the cookie question. For the record, as far as I can remember it, my answer to the question, "Do you like cookies?" was:
"I love 'em. In fact, I make them and sell them in my shop...and flapjacks and cakes and cookies and strawberry scrunches and cookies and flapjacks and...no, stop , I can't go on, I'll have to go and eat one now." It must have been that answer that provoked his anonymous attack on my performance in this event.

Event Evaluation 2008
Darlington Borough Council
Key facts
Event: I’m a Councillor, Get me out of here!
Website: www.bigvote.org.uk
Purpose: Improving the relationship between young people and local government

Dates: 6-17th October 2008 (to coincide with Local Democracy Week)

Participating Councillors:
Cllr Chris McEwan 46%
Cllr Jenny Chapman 24%
Cllr Mike Barker 17%
Cllr Kate Davies 10%
Cllr Cyndi Hughes 2%
Cllr Gill Cartwright 0%
Winner: Cllr Chris McEwan

1) Statistics

Your Council Ranking (out of 21)
Registered users 498 1st
Votes cast 562 1st
Questions asked 524 5th
Votes per user 1.13 5th
Questions per user 1.05 17th
Log ins per user 2.78 5th
Page views 13,479 1st
Live chat, lines by students 11,115 1st
Live chat, lines by cllrs 1,618 1st

2) Commentary
Darlington did stupendously well this year. As you can see from the statistics, you had more young people registered, more page views and more said in live chat than any other council. Often you’ve got more than double the average activity levels – nearly five times the average for chat by young people. When you consider that this was Darlington’s first year of taking part, and that your population is a fraction of many of our councils, it’s even more impressive.
Frankly, we can’t praise you highly enough. We are certain that much of this success was down to the dedication and organisation of the staff responsible for the event at the council. As an example, in the run up to the event Gallomanor needs various information from councils – logos, names of competing councillors, etc – Darlington was usually the first to supply this, always in correct formats, etc. Staff were always good-humoured, organised, paid attention to details, took responsibility and knew what they were talking about but were also willing to
learn from our experience.

The success in Darlington must also be partly due to the sterling efforts of councillors, who were committed, cheerful and down-to-earth and did a great job of communicating with young people at their level, without patronising them. And of course, teachers and young people themselves put in a lot of effort. We wish all councils were like you!

The young people of Darlington were fiery and made sure their personalities shone through in the chatrooms and in their line of questioning. The same can be said for the councillors too though! The councillors notably had fun, and worked well together to act as a team. We saw in Darlington some of the most adoring fans emerge over the fortnight and the finalists had a lot in their inbox to, in their own words ‘make their heads grow big.’

Topics
It was almost certainly local facilities that were of biggest priority for the young people of Darlington. Not only was there demand for more youth clubs in ‘Darlo’ but for ones with the right music, facilities and clientele. Students protested that whilst they recognised investment in such schemes in the past, they just weren’t cool enough, or they were full or ‘undesirables’. What became apparent was that the council needed to provide different services and facilities for different types of young people. There was an obvious frustration that different identities are not recognised in the current council provision.
Sadly too there was a lot of concern in Darlington about safety. Rather than objecting to a watchful eye, young people were calling for more, better CCTV.
Many wanted to share their stories of feeling scared and various confrontations. It
certainly gave the councillors food for thought.

Some students thought of different insightful questions. Username ‘Pickles’ asked Cllr Cyndi Hughes (of American origin) how she felt about the BNP ‘saying all people who came to england should go back to where they came from.’ A regular in the chat-room Zachri made sure he asked all the councillors whether they liked cookies. When asked by the moderators why he had chosen to vote for Cllr Mike Barker- Zachri simply stated he had given the best answer to the cookie question!
Maybe something to think about for their future manifestos!

Analysis of the result

Cllr Chris McEwan romped home to victory in Darlington. He won with a large share of the votes, because we are told, he promised the young people things that they wanted such as the scheme ‘small trees’ and cheaper bus fares on Saturdays.

Jenny Chapman was the runner up and was not short of her own admirers. As username ‘Jenny Lover’ so enthusiastically puts; “Dear Jenny. Your views are amazing I take in everything you say... your the best Councillor. I would follow you on your ideas everywhere you go. Your my idol!”
Jenny had been especially committed to the event, spending a great deal of time in the chat room engaging warmly with students, patiently answering their questions and showing an interest in their opinions. We feel sure that this commitment has paid dividends in terms of how those young people feel about the council and whether they feel included and valued in their community.

3) What was the breakdown of questions asked in your council?

Question Category % National Average

About you and being a councillor 32% 24%
Crime and Anti-social behaviour 13% 11%
Education 13% 10%
Transport and the Environment 7% 13%
Youth Issues 3% 8%
General 11% 16%
Local Facilities 23% 17%

4) Which schools and youth groups participated?

Schools/youth groups with more than ten registered users:-
Hummersknott School 145
Hurworth Comprehensive 136
Education Village 118
Branksome Comprehensive School 35
Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College 18

Schools/youth groups with fewer than ten registered users:-
Carmel RC
Harrowgate Hill Primary
Heighington Primary
Springfield Primary
Darlington Youth Service

1 comment:

BNP Volunteer said...

Is the current contest in North Road the most dull by election ever!
Trudging round the streets with my bundle of leaflets the other day I found hardly any enthusiasm for the election at all.

After the initial buzz of controversy about Steve Jones standing again, everything has gone quiet. This does not bode well for the BNP especially in a squeeze ward where both Labour and Lib Dem have held seats in the recent past.
I think that this will just be going through the motions for us.

Our worst enemy is no publicity. We need awareness raising that we are standing and that we are a threat.
This gives the feeling that the other parties are worried about us winning which in turn legitimises us with the voters.

Of the residents that our people have spoken to while leafleting most are going to vote Lib Dem. The usual cockheads who inherited their parents voting habits are still sticking with Labour (although they probably don't even know why) and there has been one or two who are backing Steve Jones, probably because he did do good community work when he was a councillor. (Are we the only party not to have slagged him off in our literature?).
No-one has admitted that they are voting Tory and we aren't getting anything like the response we got in Aycliffe recently. The whole thing is dominated by the Lib Dems Vs ZA-NU Labour.

We are hoping that dumb Labour lefties get busy with satchels full of "right on" leaflets and do the BNP a favour. We need something to check the apathy in this boring election and make us centre stage.
I like AMC and if I had two votes I would certainly give her one.
Interesting to hear that the Lib Dems are going to prioritise the alpha Vaseys Eastbourne seat.