Maltings radio project takes to the air

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The Farnham Maltings is using the occasion of World Radio Day on Monday 13 February to announce that it is to launch its own radio project – and it wants the community to get involved. ‘Maltings Sound Vault’ will take to the air in the next year, and will seek to create a ‘radio space for all’, where volunteers can flex their creative muscles, the community can tell their stories, and everyone can get a platform for their artistic talents.

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Me with former ‘charge’, BBC Radio 5 Live breakfast presenter Nicky Campbell.

Maltings Sound Vault’ will utilise the possibilities offered by podcasting technology to give a wider range of people the chance to make programmes, and share them with a bigger audience. I’m thrilled to be able to say that I will be leading the project as a volunteer, after going to them with the germ of an idea, and capitalising on my experience working for BBC Radio 1, then later with Kiss FM and Bam-Bam (see below), and subsequently with Mark Goodier and Nicky Campbell.

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Explaining the idea, Gavin Stride, who is the Farnham Maltings’ Director (and head honcho) said;

“World Radio Day – this year on Monday 13 February – was established by the United Nations to celebrate radio as a medium, and to encourage us all to use it to promote freedom of expression. Radio is the mass media reaching the widest audience in the world, and is a powerful storytelling tool. It is only right that the Farnham Maltings use World Radio Day to reveal our exciting plans.”

 

Initial programming plans centre around four themes:-

Voice: personal story-telling; oral history; and voices from the street;

Audio Collage: sound creations, where music meets speech;

Specialist Music: exploring music genres missing a platform elsewhere;

Maltings + : an audio dimension to the Farnham Maltings’ own programme.

The online radio platform will be accompanied by a website, and social media dedicated to celebrating listening more generally around the world.

Former Kiss FM breakfast show DJ Bam Bam has dropped by to advise me on the plans.

Former Kiss FM breakfast show DJ Bam Bam has dropped by to give me some advice on the plans. Bam presented the show for 7 years, and won countless Sony Radio Academy Awards, before going on to become a pioneer in podcasting. Back in 2006, he was one of the first DJs to launch a daily podcast, and his ‘Faceless‘ podcast was one of the most downloaded of that year.  Today, as well as presenting the breakfast show on Southampton’s Sam FM, his audioshows.com consultancy is behind the successful Brain Training Podcast which has reached number 11 in the Top 100 podcasts on iTunes.

Maltings Sound Vault’ is now putting out a call for volunteers who are interested in getting involved in the project – whether in the shape of production, technology, digital, legal, music or oral history/digital heritage expertise. People interested in becoming involved with the project can find out more details at Farnham Maltings’ refreshers, festival of retirement on Monday 27 February where I will be running a stand between 11.00am and 4.00pm – or by emailing me at paul@dutchHQ.com.

Once a volunteer team has been recruited, the plan is to reach out to source programme content from the community, using a studio at the Farnham Maltings, portable digital recording equipment, and ‘pop-up’ recording booths.

While I live just eleven or so miles up the road in Yateley, I was born in Farnham, and my family have lived around this area of the Surrey/Hampshire border, whether in Bentley, Church Crookham, Crondall, DeepcutDogmersfield, Elvetham, Frimley,Odiham, Rotherwick, South Warnborough or Yateley for hundreds of years – so a project dedicated to tapping into local story-telling is extremely important to me.

Farnham Maltings

Farnham Maltings

The project, while centred on the Farnham Maltings, and surrounding communities on the Surrey/Hampshire border, will ensure that its horizons are global as well as local. Updates about its development will follow in the coming months. It is expected to launch in time for World Radio Day 2018.  Updates will be posted at www.farnhammaltings.com/soundvault . Stay tuned!

 

a radio space for all.

a radio space for all.

Get involved – email paul@dutchHQ.com

** For anyone who doesn’t know, Farnham Maltings is a creative organisation that works with the artists and communities of South East England to encourage the greatest number of people to make, see and enjoy the best art possible. From a range of buildings, set in the heart of Farnham, they present events and workshops from large scale craft festivals to intimate cabaret shows, as well as proving space for voluntary and community groups to deliver their own ambitions. They enable artists making craft, theatre and dance work to thrive by providing affordable studio and rehearsal space, offering producing and tour booking, developing networks, sharing resources and equipping artists with the skills and opportunities to promote their work locally, nationally and internationally. farnhammaltings.com . They are a perfect fit for a project like the Maltings Sound Vault – and I’m really excited to be working with them.

 

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Back on campus

Last week, I was back on campus, giving a guest lecture to the PR Fraternity at the University of Greenwich.  I remain an honorary patron for the society, and it was particularly inspiring to see a number of the students I have taught over the years return to Greenwich for a networking event after the lecture, to help inspire those students who are set to follow them.

LCC PR alumni, Matthew Zorpas.

LCC PR alumni, Matthew Zorpas.

Next week (Wednesday 8th February), another of those former PR students (this time from LCC) who have gone on to success in PR, marketing, events and digital, return to give a guest lecture in their own right for the PR Fraternity.  The talk is  from 5.00-6.00pm in QA280 , Queen Anne Court, Old Royal Naval College, University of Greenwich SE10 9lS.

Matthew Zorpas is a London-based creative consultant who graduated with a BA in Public Relations from London College of Communication and with an MSc in Global Media and Communication from London School of Economics.  I was lucky enough to teach him for the first two years of his undergraduate career, before I switched to start teaching at Greenwich.

Opening my guest lecture last week, using 'psycho-geography' as a tool for reflection.

Opening my guest lecture last week, using ‘psycho-geography’ as a tool for reflection.

Matthew was founder of The Gentleman Blogger in July 2012 and has collaborated with respected brands such as Cartier, Chopard, Gucci, IWC, Westfield London, Dolce and Gabbana, Cadillac, MINI Clubman and Coach, to mention but a few and notably fronting the Gianfranco Ferré Fragrance worldwide campaign in 2016.

He has been recognised as one of the Best Dressed Man in Britain by Esquire magazine UK in 2010 and GQ Taiwan named him one of top ten best dressed men in the world for 2013. More recently British GQ crowned him one of the top ten best dressed men on Instagram and a judge for British GQ Grooming Awards 2017.

He has also taught luxury management and digital marketing at respected universities in the UK such as Istituto Marangoni, and has contributed to the London College of Fashion, Regents College, Winchester School of Arts and PUC-rio in Brazil.

Students, alumni and friends networking at the PR Fraternity event.

Students, alumni and friends networking at the PR Fraternity event.

You can RSVP to the Facebook event page for the guest lecture here.

The PR Fraternity executive strike a pose with me.

The PR Fraternity executive strike a pose with me.

Other links for the PR Fraternity are Instagram; Twitter and Pinterest.  Their blog is at https://theprfraternity.wordpress.com/

Hopefully I might see you at the next event on Wednesday!

Found in Translation

Back in June 2016, I was captivated by a programme on BBC Radio 4 about the Russian absurdist writer Daniil Kharms.  It chimed not only with me, but I felt with the times we find ourselves in, and ever since, I have been devouring his work.

Daniil Kharms - with thanks to an excellent piece by Chris Cumming

Daniil Kharms – with thanks to an excellent piece by Chris Cumming

Kharms was born in 1905 and died in 1942 – a suppressed Soviet-era surrealist and absurdist avant-garde writer.  Much of his work was not published during his lifetime, but was saved to be rediscovered in the 1960s and 1970s.  During the twentieth century, he was better known for his writing for children, which was tolerated by the authorities.  That toleration by the authorities didn’t last forever though, and he died of starvation on the psychiatric ward of a Soviet prison.  It was said he simulated insanity to avoid execution – but who can be sure?

You will find plenty of reviews and discussions of Kharms’ legacy on the internet (see below), but in the same way that I was transfixed by the playfulness of his work by the BBC Radio 4 programme, I wanted to share some of that excitement by reading a small number of his very short pieces.

Neat Widget Mic (left) and H5 digital recorder (right)

Neat Widget Mic (left) and H5 digital recorder (right)

The first four are recorded on a new desk mic I’ve bought which gives pretty good quality, but the remaining are on my digital H5 recorder which I’m trying properly for the first time here – a humdinger of a crystal clear sound (I can’t guarantee the quality of my voice!)

Tumbling Old Women is probably the best known of his works, and the one that really caught my ear first.

Fedya Davidovich embraces butter and toe clippings – which pretty much sounds like the story of my life!

Four Legged Crow spits at you – and pretty much hits the nail on the head about the state of relations on Twitter right now.

The Connection puts life in some philosophical context with the aid of a bed-bug.

An Incident on the Street is typical of his writings where an incident is seemingly leading us one way, only to lead us nowhere at all.

The Death of a Little Man vividly captures an important moment in a man’s life – his end.  No niceties or unnecessary gore – just as it comes.

How One Man Fell to Pieces seems to be a lesson about getting carried away, all the while showing that things still carry on as normal when we do, whether that be the use of the dustpan usually reserved for clearing horse manure, or the sweet smell of ‘puffy’ ladies.

Blue Notebook #10 is another signature piece of his writing, beginning by writing about one thing, but by the end of it, because the piece contains none of the things it was intending to cover, the writer either gives up and walks away (as in this case) – or dumps something completely different into the text.

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Most of his works are hard to come by now, and a little on the expensive side, as I have found to my cost.  I can recommend “Today I Wrote Nothing” if any of the above plants a seed with you – available from Amazon and AbeBooks.  It is ‘hit and miss’ – a lot of the work can be more hard going or completely obscure, but that is also part of the charm of it.  There are are great reviews in the New York Times and in the London Review of Books.

As someone recently said on one of the UK’s soaps, “You only had to give her a cassette player and a block of cheese and she thought she was in heaven.”  That’s pretty much how Kharms has made me feel of late.  Thank you for indulging me.

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Vodafone fail

On Thursday 6th October, I put my Samsung Galaxy S5 in for repair with Vodafone.  And so started a tale of woe which goes some way to exemplifying why they were recently slapped with a £4.6 million fine by Ofcom for poor customer complaints handling.

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I was told it would be repaired by Wednesday 19th October, or if it could not be repaired, I would receive a replacement.  Throughout the period of my contract, I have been paying £6.99 per month insurance from Vodafone on top of my contract, so I expected nothing less.  I had to agree to pay £25 excess.  However, I did not expect to have to pay this until the issue was resolved.

As I write this post, I have NO PHONE, and I have ALREADY PAID the excess.  It is 1st November – two days short of four weeks since I put the phone in for repair!

Around the 19th October, I was telephoned by their Repair Centre to be told that I would receive a new phone within five days, as my old phone could not be repaired.

On Monday 24th October, I tried calling the Repair Centre, but after 40 minutes of holding, I had to give up.  I eventually got through to someone on a second attempt, and was told that they were sorry it had not been despatched – that it would be that evening – and would be with the local store the next day, or failing that, within 48 hours.

On Wednesday 26th October, I called AGAIN – and was told EXACTLY the same thing.  It turns out the phone was not sent out after all.

On Friday 28th October, I called AGAIN – and was told EXACTLY the same thing.  Yes – it turns out the phone was not sent after all.

Each time, whenever I called the number given for my local store, it went straight to voicemail, and NOBODY bothered to call me back, despite leaving my name and telephone number.  Nobody has rung me back from the local store to this day.

I'll no doubt we waving goodbye to Vodafone at the earliest opportunity. No wonder they can't afford the real Will Young for the TV adverts!

I’ll no doubt we waving goodbye to Vodafone at the earliest opportunity. No wonder they can’t afford the real Will Young for the TV adverts!

On Friday 28th October, as well as calling the Repair Centre, I discussed the issued with the main Vodafone Customer number (they advised me to take it up with the Vodafone Insurance people), and when I called the Vodafone Insurance people, they advised me to speak to Customer Services!!!  WTF!!??  I vented my anger on Twitter.  It got picked up by their Customer Care Team, who advised me to take it up with a live chat – but I couldn’t bear to go through it all again, as an email I sent via their website has never been responded to.

By today – Tuesday 1st November, I still had no sign of the new phone – so I called a new department altogether – Vodafone Complaints.  They looked into the whole issue.  Now it turns out they cannot guarantee me a date by which I will get my phone – so the previous conversations were all LIES!

They can’t begin to have a conversation with me about compensation until the issue has been resolved – but who knows when that will be.  Compensation is not my driving force – I just want my phone!  The Complaints Department tried to fob me off with the Insurance Department – but I knew it wasn’t the Insurance Team’s problem – the issue is with Vodafone itself!

Apparently, it’s all about them having to “follow a procedure“, but obviously, their procedure obviously doesn’t work.  I’m paying for a contract, but not receiving the service, yet some poor mug could walk in off the street, order for the same new phone I’m waiting to receive – and get it straight away.  God forbid they do, otherwise they will be entering into a contract which delivers this kind of service.

brick-phone

When I dropped off the phone on Thursday 6th October, I was given a courtesy phone, to be fair, but in today’s age, it is the equivalent of a ‘brick‘.  The key-pad sticks.  Apps freeze, and kick you out.  There is not enough memory on it to download Apps which I use regularly, like ‘WhatsApp’ – no, I have not disappeared friends.

I have NEVER known a level of service like this Vodafone – so just felt the need to share.  You have taken money from me for a service I am not getting; made an additional charge for a service before I get it; lied to me on numerous occasions; hidden behind a ‘procedure’ which does not deliver for the customer – and refused to discuss how I will be compensated until the issue is resolved – yet nobody is able to ANYTHING to resolve the issue, or give me any signpost about how, or when it will be resolved.

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It’s like being in Vodafone’s very own version of the Circumlocution Office – a government office in Dickens literature where characters like William Dorrit are passed from official to official without getting a satisfactory answer.  I’m just being shunted from department to department, but getting nowhere.  Come on Vodafone – I’ve been with you for what must be at least fifteen years.  This is a disgrace!  My next call will have to be the regulator.

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Stepping-up

I’ve just come to the end of 18 months volunteering with Citizens Advice Hart.  When I was first retired off from work with my neurological condition, I at least wanted to ensure I was still contributing my recent PR experience (and dare I say it, professional skills) to a community cause.

This Citizens Advice Bureau dates back further than the Yateley portacabin - but demonstrates its vital role over the years.

This Citizens Advice Bureau dates back further than the Yateley portacabin of the 1980s – but demonstrates its vital role over the years – more here.

Citizens Advice has always been important to me since they helped my own family in the mid 1980s, when they were based in a ‘portacabin‘ behind the Royal Oak pub in Yateley.  Since then, their recipe of free, confidential, impartial and independent advice, combined with campaigning on those issues which have presented themselves to those organisation with regularity has become more important.  With a widening gap between rich and poor, and Government relying more on austerity as a strategy, Citizens Advice has as good as become the last stop-gap for those at the sharp end looking for help and support.

I know most people have ever increasing workloads and time-pressures in their working lives, but the contribution I have been able to make in the last 18 months has underlined just how much we can all make if we were able to volunteer just a small amount of time to local charities, community organisations or campaigns.

Dealing with life's transitions - like having a baby. Photo taken at Ewshot Recreation Ground.

Dealing with life’s transitions – like having a baby. Photo taken on steps of the slide at Ewshot Recreation Ground.

I was excited to be able to bring my 18 months to a close by producing a postcard-led volunteer recruitment campaign, “Change a Life – One Step at a Time”.  It featured scenes which utilised Slinkachu-style street art, which I photographed in locations throughout our largely rural area, to help bring a district to life which many of our residents were unaware of.

Dealing with life's transitions - like bereavement. Photo taken on the steps of Odiham War Memorial.

Dealing with life’s transitions – like bereavement. Photo taken on the steps of Odiham War Memorial.

The scenes each illustrated a different ‘life transition’ which the charity is likely to help local people, so that potential volunteers can get an insight into the kind of work they could help with.  Previously the charity had found it difficult to get permission to share examples of case studies, and this overcame that problem.

The local newspaper – the ‘Fleet and Yateley News & Mail‘ were so impressed, they gave us a full page feature on the initiative.

Citizens Advice Hart's "Change a Life - One Step at a Time" campaign in the "Fleet and Yateley News & Mail"

Citizens Advice Hart’s “Change a Life – One Step at a Time” campaign in the “Fleet and Yateley News & Mail”

The full campaign was explained in this blog post.

It had social media extensions on Instagram and Pinterest, and the postcards are designed to be used regularly as banners on Twitter and Facebook.

It has been a real thrill to work with staff and fellow volunteers to help spread the word on the local Citizens Advice.  When I first began, I helped show how media relations works, and how the potential of a story can be properly unlocked.  They ended up on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, in the pages of the Spectator magazine and in the local media too.  As well as helping them embrace social media, I then worked with the trustees on pulling together a full communications strategy.

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The biggest thrill was embracing some of the best practice from of the best agencies I have had the privilege of engaging with over time to run a session with the team of 30 or so volunteers to help unlock the true nature of the charity’s communication problem – and how to overcome it.  We were able to see how some solutions directly led to changes in service delivery – and changes in how we thought about how the service might work in the future.  It also helped volunteers and staff see how PR is about much more than press releases, but can actually help the organisation keep a focus on improving relationships with people.  And it helped put them in the driving seat of the analysis stage of compiling a communications strategy.

After 18 months, I had to remember that I was retired off for a reason, and will be concentrating on that for a bit.  But in the meantime, I just wanted to pen a post recommending that as many people as possible – whether they are PRs, marketers, lawyers, accountants – whatever, volunteer their time with a local charity, community organisation or campaign for change that is dear to them.  Some ‘CPD‘ schemes include volunteering as part of their structures – but it’s just a great thing in it’s own right!

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Fun Palaces come to Yateley

Saturday 1st October 2016 sees the Fun Palaces weekend – ‘an ongoing campaign for culture at the heart of community, with an annual weekend of arts and science events created by, for and with local people.’

funpalace

This year, my home village of Yateley’s library will be hosting a Fun Palace event – and I will be sharing the delights of ‘Slinkachu’ style street art photography with those who come along.  We’ll be encouraging people to use my figures, and try their hand at it amongst the books and shelves of Yateley Library, to see what they can come up with.

Here’s a few ideas with books I had lying around the house, to demonstrate the kinds of things you can do amongst the shelves on the day.

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If you’ve never seen much about ‘Slinkachu’, this is a useful link to read more.  And you can also see how I’ve helped the local Citizens Advice Hart make use of this approach to photography in their campaigning on their blog.  They will be launching a new volunteer recruitment campaign using ‘Slinkachu’ photography in the coming weeks.

I love the central manifesto of the Fun Palaces movement:- “We believe in the genius in everyone, in everyone an artist and everyone a scientist, and that creativity in community can change the world for the better.  We believe we can do this together, locally, with radical fun – and that anyone, anywhere, can make a fun palace.”

The common good!

The event is from 10.00am-4.00pm on Saturday 1st October at Yateley Library on School Lane, and my Slinkachu stuff will be running from 12.00noon-4.00pm.

Boundaries

The Local Government Boundary Review have just published their final recommendations for Hampshire County Council.  I took part in the consultation process at the end of last year.

I wasn’t expecting my comments to be acted upon, but I at least expected them to be acknowledged in the consultation report.  They were not.

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Only four submissions were apparently received about the ward I made a submission about, so it is pretty easy to track whether my views were noted, let alone acted upon.  I felt the proposals were wrong, and did not meet statutory criteria – little room for confusion there.  I have copied my full response at the end of this post so you can see what I mean.  They refer to the Hart District area of Hampshire.

However, in the report, it says, “We received four submissions relating to this division. Two of the submissions commented on the parish warding arrangements for Yateley. We have considered the evidence and provided for revised parish electoral arrangements for Yateley at page 47 of this report. The remaining submissions commented on the division name. It was argued that Blackwater be included in the name as it would better reflect the communities which make up the division. We are persuaded by the evidence received; however, we consider a division name consisting of Fleet North, Yateley East & Blackwater to be too long. As Blackwater and Yateley make up a significant part of the division, we have re-named the division Yateley East & Blackwater which we consider better reflects communities represented in this division. Subject to this change of division name, we confirm our recommended division as part of our final recommendations.”

No mention that I objected to putting together half of Yateley with part of Fleet which are NOT natural communities, with zero public transport links.  For this, and reasons to do with lack of recognisable community groups and interests across the proposed division, I did NOT feel it met the statutory criteria.

Yateley's Dog & Partridge, near the boundary of two divisions under these proposals, rather than at the heart of one, as under mine.

Yateley’s Dog & Partridge, near the boundary of two divisions under these proposals, rather than at the heart of one, as under mine.

Indeed, additionally, on the proposal for ‘Hartley Wintney and Yateley West‘ division, the report states, “We received support for our draft recommendations relating to Hartley Wintney & Yateley West division,” despite my submission having said that I did not think they met the statutory criteria either for similar reasons.

By deciding to ‘change the name’ of the Yateley East division which had I made a submission about, to take out reference to Fleet, but not to take out the actually area it refers to kind of demonstrates the point I am making, without doing anything about it.

This has totally removed what little faith I had left in public consultation processes.  There has to be a better way if it even turns off political geeks like me from taking part.  Apologies for being such a bore, but I had to get it off my chest.  I don’t really mind that my argument didn’t win the day – I object to the fact that it was ignored completely despite being eminently valid.

My original submission in full, so you can see what I am talking about:

“I wish to comment about the proposed divisions in Hart, specifically, ‘Fleet North & Yateley East‘, but also ‘Hartley Wintney & Yateley West‘ which I do not believe reflect the statutory criteria.  On the summary report pages, the test of ‘Community Identity’ suggests that there should be good transport links across the division, and highlights public transport.  There is NO public transport between Fleet and Yateley, or between Hartley Wintney and Yateley – something I acutely feel as a disabled person.  It asks whether there are recognisable interests, and community groups across the divisions – but as the names suggest, both these divisions ‘bolt’ together natural communities which have been split apart – namely Yateley, and Fleet.  Surely it makes sense to build an electoral division around Yateley as ONE community (which includes Blackwater and Hawley, and possibly Eversley); and an electoral division around Fleet as ONE community – each with very different interests, boundaries, and community groups.  Hartley Wintney more naturally looks west, towards Odiham, and Hook.”

Lost-interest-boring

“To group together ‘Yateley East‘ with ‘Fleet North‘ makes absolutely no sense at all.  I was born in the area, lived here until I was 18, and have just returned a year ago at the age of 44 years.  My mother has lived in Yateley all her life, as has her mother.  When I consulted with my immediate neighbours about the proposition, they were totally bemused.  Fleet and Yateley are the two largest towns in Hart District, approx. five miles apart.  Why would you split each of them, and then create a new division which mixes part of one, with part of another, particularly when they share no public transport link?  Even if you do not accept this argument, then at the very least, the proposed name of the division is inappropriate.  It includes Blackwater and Hawley – places in their own right which share some focus with Yateley, but absolutely none at all with Fleet. ” 

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“My proposal, which I have not tested, would be for a division for the whole of Yateley (which would include Blackwater and Hawley, and possibly Eversley); one for Fleet Town (which could include parts of Fleet North from the previous proposal, including Elvetham Heath – and if any levelling up is needed, this could be done with the division of Church Crookham & Ewshot, which is a more natural fit, and low on numbers).  Similarly, Hartley Wintney would be a more natural fit for the division of Odiham and Hook, which could be renamed accordingly.  This would increase its numbers which are currently a little low.  I believe such a proposal would make a more natural community fit for Fleet and for Yateley (as well as surrounding population centres) reflecting community interests and identities, and could be a more equitable spread of population, thus providing good electoral quality. Crucially, in the case of Yateley and Fleet, it would be based on strong, easily identifiable boundaries, and help deliver strong, effective and convenient local government.  At the moment, local people often struggle to know who their local county councillor is because they do not know which side of an arbitrary boundary they fall on within Yateley or Fleet – this is patently absurd, particularly when it is written into the statutory criteria for your own consultation.”

Thank you for bearing with me!

Thank you for bearing with me!

What Women Want 2.0

When a good friend sent me an email this summer about a campaign she was involved in, I had no hesitation in asking a selection of women neighbours, family and friends to take part in it, to support it as much as I could.  I’ve re-printed the text of the email, to provide some background, as well as a few of the photos I have collected, as the campaign comes to fruition today.

WhatWomenWant

“What do you want?  That’s the question women were asked twenty years ago as part of a campaign called What Women Want.  It was supported by Anita Roddick founder of the Body Shop as a way of giving British women a voice at the United Nations World Conference on Women in September 1995.  The idea was simple: to invite women to complete a postcard answering the simple question ‘What do you want?

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Mary (my Mum) #WhatWomenWant20

“Twenty years on, there is still a desperate need to understand the answer to this question so we are repeating the survey.  The What Women Want campaign reboot is WWW2.0, and it is inviting women to engage in and create what could be the world’s most powerful conversation to make change happen.  Our goal is as it was before: to enable women to say what matters most to them and use their collective voices to effect the change they say they want – for themselves, their families and communities and for society as a whole.”

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Ruby (neighbour) #WhatWomenWant20

The response in 1995 was overwhelming.  Replies came from all of the UK and from all parts of society with more than 10,000 women taking part, making it the biggest ever survey of British women.

Brenda (aunt) #WhatWomenWant20

Brenda (aunt) #WhatWomenWant20

“We hope you will participate in this exciting conversation with us and thousands of others to find out what women want in 2016 – 20 years on from the original survey. Are the concerns and challenges and goals different now? Help us find out and please tell us what you want.”

Olivia (my niece) #WhatWomenWant20 #herecomethegirls

Olivia (my niece) #WhatWomenWant20 #herecomethegirls

You can take part in one or all three of the simple ways below:

1. To answer the question ‘What do you Want?’ go to http://www.thisiswhatwomenwant.org/

Carol's is specific and heartfelt #WhatWomenWant20

Carol’s is specific and heartfelt #WhatWomenWant20

2. Take a picture of yourself with the answer to the question on the downloadable postcard and post it on social media using the #whatwomenwant20

3. Join in the conversation on social media on September 5th and get as many people to answer the question in your personal and digital networks as you can. The more answers the better. If there is someone in particular you admire and are interested to know their response, then tweet them the link to the question and ask them to respond.

The 5th September is the day Parliament returns after the summer break. What better time to tell politicians ‘what women want’ than ahead of their conference season. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get Theresa May to tell us what she wants? Tweet her the link @theresa_may

To find out more about the campaign please see http://www.thisiswhatwomenwant.org/

You can also see the campaign on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram:

twitter.com/WhatWomenWantXX

www.facebook.com/WhatWomenWant2.0

www.instagram.com/whatwomenwant2.0/

Tickets please!

Last Friday, I hurriedly submitted written evidence to an inquiry which had been launched by the Transport Select Committee on the Bus Services Bill.  I’d only discovered the day before that it was taking place, and the deadline was that day.

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I can think of better ways to spend my summer, but buses are an important part of civic life to me.  They have been woefully neglected as part of the fabric of society outside London.  If, like me, you can’t drive (I had to surrender my licence because of my neurological condition Chiari Malformation), you can come to rely on buses pretty heavily.  Which means that if the service is pretty woeful, you are stuck.

I’m not going to bore you here about the contents of my submission.  Suffice to say, there is something wrong with our democracy if we have allowed our buses to get into the position they are, and if the piece of legislation going through our Parliament right now misses a lot of the central points that it should be dealing with on the matter.

Bus_2

Even more of a failure is the fact that the Transport Select Committee’s Inquiry has been launched AFTER it can have any real impact on the nature or content of the legislation – a bit of a waste of time.

I’ve done a written submission nonetheless – I doubt many other people have, given they probably hadn’t heard of it, and if they had, the precise guidance for submitting such written submissions probably put them off.  We must find ways of making these inquiries and consultations more user-friendly.  There are pressure groups campaigning on the issue, such as the Campaign for Better Transport’s Save Our Buses, and We Own It, specifically raising the issue that local authorities should be able to own and run their own services, but they must find it difficult too.

Me and some of the gang on one of the local bus services which connects our village to a nearby Sainsburys superstore.

Me and some of the gang on one of the local bus services which connects our village to a nearby Sainsburys superstore.

The issue is important, but probably more important is the quality of our politics right now.  First, we need to do something about the quality of our opposition parties – I’m in despair.  Second, the House of Lords – for me, an issue like this demonstrates the need for a set-up in the shape of a Sortition – another elected chamber just wont cut it.  A chamber drawn at random from people on the electoral roll, in the same way as jury service would ensure we have a chamber that considers issues like bus services deliberatively – and might ensure that those considering the issue might even use buses regularly!