The public can get in­volved at all lev­els

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

AS a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, I am of­ten ap­proached by con­stituents who want to ob­tain tick­ets for Prime Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions or a par­tic­u­lar de­bate, so I am al­ways happy to try and help them if pos­si­ble.

With the Par­lia­ment chan­nel now broad­cast­ing when­ever the House of Com­mons is sit­ting, I know that con­stituents find it in­ter­est­ing to be able to watch the progress of leg­is­la­tion or hear a state­ment about an is­sue which is of par­tic­u­lar con­cern.

At the lo­cal gov­ern­ment level, it is per­haps less well known that mem­bers of the public can go along to meet­ings and ob­serve the pro­ceed­ings.

The most likely time that a res­i­dent might want to go along to a meet­ing could be when there is a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion which af­fects the lo­cal­ity.

Of course, in these cir­cum­stances res­i­dents have the op­por­tu­nity to send a let­ter with their com­ments, but there is also the pos­si­bil­ity of speak­ing in per­son.

The plan­ning depart­ment will al­ways ad­vise peo­ple in such cir­cum­stances.

Town and parish coun­cils fre­quently have a sec­tion of the agenda set aside for a public fo­rum and this gives a chance for res­i­dents to raise gen­eral is­sues af­fect­ing the com­mu­nity, as well as more spe­cific ones af­fect­ing a par­tic­u­lar area.

Since the in­tro­duc­tion of Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sion­ers, there are meet­ings in the Thames Val­ley area where res­i­dents can raise ques­tions too.

Public par­tic­i­pa­tion is re­ally im­por­tant be­cause it helps to en­sure that lo­cal peo­ple set the pri­or­i­ties for what hap­pens in their neigh­bour­hood.

One ad­van­tage of public en­gage­ment is that some of those who go along to ob­serve the pro­ceed­ings will have the chance to think about whether they, too, could take part and serve their com­mu­nity, by stand­ing for elec­tion them­selves. It might be you!

Do­minic Grieve MP for Bea­cons­field

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