The public can get involved at all levels
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