Communication is crucial for council
Sir, I was left speechless by the story on your front page last week (‘Councillors plea for end to criticisms on social media’, The Oban Times, February 16).
I can only assume there is some sort of award for the most archaic and out of touch local authority and this story was a stunning attempt by some of our councillors to claim this accolade.
Ignoring issues raised on social media is an attitude that belongs in the past. Social media is a fantastic tool for community engagement; something that we are repeatedly told our council is committed to.
When the ‘traditional’ methods of contacting Argyll and Bute Council deliver no results, social media can be the catalyst for change.
I have first-hand experience of this with a bin issue on Iona. After email had ended with the standard result of nothing happening, a Twitter exchange between residents, councillors and myself eventually led to the solution.
In regards to the Soroba bins problem, did our councillors refuse to act out of spite or as some sort of crusade against the increased use of social media? They were aware of the problem, had enough time to see there were 61 comments, had enough time to take offence at criticisms, had enough time to discuss the matter with your newspaper and yet we are to believe that they somehow did not have a few seconds to write a quick response on the Facebook post.
Surely any tool that makes it easier to interact with our elected representatives should be embraced and encouraged.
There is hypocrisy in this story, too. The council’s Twitter page is often used to publicise ‘ good news’ stories and councillors promote the good job they are doing via their own social media accounts. I am happy for our councillors to demonstrate the good work they do but you cannot have one without the other. Criticism is healthy and the residents of Argyll and Bute have every right to criticise their councillors.
There is a downside to open forums such as Facebook and Twitter which is that it opens us all up to abuse and harassment, which should not be tolerated.
For Argyll and Bute to have a healthy, robust and effective council, all avenues of interaction, communication, engagement and accountability must be utilised. That means telephone, written mail, electronic mail, social media, surgeries or even a discussion in the street.
I would be willing to return to carrier pigeon if I thought it would help my voice be heard. Cameron Anson, Fionnphort, Isle of Mull.