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How do you get the media on board in a way that supports constructive scrutiny?
06-03-2009, 11:42 AM
Post: #1
RE: How do you get the media on board in a way that supports constructive scrutiny?
Hi Dushana,

this is an interesting and important topic.

One stream is about the skills/training/interest of local journalists.

Here is an example from local paper last month -

HOSPITAL bosses are being urged to help pay for a raft of new parking restrictions to prevent their staff choking residential streets.

The call has come from councillors who are fed up with handling hundreds of complaints each year from angry residents living near The University Hospital Of North Staffordshire.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council's improving communities overview and scrutiny committee heard yesterday that many hospital staff leave their cars in residential streets to avoid paying the on-site parking charges at the Hartshill complex.
Residents affected by the problem said they are frequently blocked in by cars left parked across driveways, and that vehicles encroach on pavements and make it impossible for emergency services to get past.
Hartshill and Penkhull ward councillor Randy Conteh said he was dismayed that residents had been waiting for years for a solution to the problems.
He said: "The reality of the situation is that it is an absolute nightmare if you live anywhere near the hospital.
"This is not just a problem for people in my ward, it is a city-wide problem caused by visitors and workers at the hospital.
"We have implemented parking restrictions in some streets, but that has just displaced the problem.
"We need to have more parking restrictions in surrounding streets to really push the problem away."
Stoke and Trent Vale ward member Paul Billington said he wanted to see similar restrictions imposed in parts of his ward where residents are affected by hospital parking.
Council highways officer Steven Davenport supported the call for extra parking restrictions.
He said: "We need to chase the problem away until it gets to such a distance from the hospital that it is more convenient to park on the site than park in the streets."
Retired painter and decorator Peter Banks, aged 66, has lived in Quarry Avenue for 12 years. He has previously signed a petition calling for a residents' parking scheme to be introduced.
He said: "There is no way a fire engine or an ambulance could get up this street during the day.
"The parking makes it difficult to reverse out of the driveway and there are a lot of bumps and scratches happening to cars in this street.
"Wing mirrors are always being knocked off and just a fortnight ago a member of staff from the hospital had her car badly scratched.
"We do not mind patients and visitors parking for a short time, but it's the staff who park from 8am to 5pm who are causing the problems.
"I am glad they are considering a parking scheme here, but it will just push the problems elsewhere. It's not a solution. The hospital needs more parking."
Neil Mason, aged 57, is an engineer who has lived in Quarry Avenue for 21 years. He said: "I put forward a suggestion of parking on one side of the road in the morning and on the other side in the afternoon because residents would be happy to move their cars, but it would deter hospital staff. But I am supporting the idea of a residents' parking scheme because anything which will improve the situation for residents is welcomed. We have been campaigning for this for years."
The committee unanimously approved recommendations calling for an urgent meeting with hospital managers to discuss funding for new residents-only parking schemes.
The panel also requested tougher enforcement of parking regulations in the area and asked for the council's executive to use its influence to resolve the problems as quickly as possible.
Streets being considered for the parking measures include Quarry Avenue, Quarry Road, West Avenue, Harris Avenue, Watson Road and Frederick Avenue

I think it shows good understanding of issue and the role of scrutiny. Do other LAs have examples - good or bad - which might be used? Please post.

More generally - we have benefitted from increased coverage from our own press relations which has also helped. Of course the opposite side of this is - are committees/reviews covering areas of interest and importance to people? If not - or if the relevance is not made clear - then scutiny needs to look for answers more closer to home.

I look forwrd to the discussion and papers.

Best wishes John
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13-03-2009, 03:05 PM
Post: #2
RE: How do you get the media on board in a way that supports constructive scrutiny?
  • Do you struggle to get press interest in reporting your scrutiny work?

    Sometimes, yes. It can be quite frustrating, especially on more interesting topics where we have had residents at public meetings complaining to us that they have heard nothing about the review in the press. Until we get state controlled media we may have to put up with this. Other times, it's great, with our press releases being picked up, raising awareness of our ongoing work and successes
  • Do you find press interest positive or negative in its effect on effective scrutiny?

    Positive effect, but not necessarily a big effect.
  • Have you any imaginative tips for how to get the media on board in a way that supports constructive scrutiny?

    Make your reviews real hot-beds of intrigue uncovering untold scandal!? Maybe that's not constructive! We are having a go at tying in interesting local activity, with the strategic issues we are looking at. E.g., the fact that we are looking at sustainability & climate change is not really that appealing to local press: however, combine that with the fact that one of the committee members has just bought a rechargeable electric moped to reduce his CO2 footprint, and you have a photo-op and a good hook to let people know the committee exists in the background. www.messengernewspapers.co.uk/news/whereyoulive/timperley/timperleynews/4112825.Eco_friendly_Neil_leads_by_example/
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