Thursday, 28 May 2015

Community Councils Online

I was reading the Oggy Bloggy Ogwr blog earlier, and they had an interesting post on how the Bridgend area's town and community councils are complying with the Local Democracy Act 2013. In their words: "It means town and community councils are obligated to publish things such as members' interests, meeting minutes and other assorted information on a "regularly updated" website." There will be time yet to implement this, but it made me wonder how close Torfaen's town and community councils are to compliance.

The popular view of first tier councils. In fact there are more than 10,000 community, town and parish councils in England and Wales, comprising more than 100,000 councillors - the 8,000 or so in Wales are paid £100 a year for their services.

Unlike the 20 in Bridgend, Torfaen only has 6 town and community councils - making my task somewhat easier! (For more on what they actually are, check out the One Voice Wales website HERE.) I've listed them by size:

Cwmbran Community Council

The joint biggest in Torfaen with 21 councillors, CCC has a pretty good website. There are some pages which badly need finishing, such as 'Meet Your Councillors', but other than that the site has plenty of information and is updated regularly, along with the social media presence on Facebook (although that does need to be better linked on the website). Overall Grade: A

Pontypool Community Council

Like Cwmbran, Pontypool Community Council has 21 councillors. In addition to being on Facebook (again, it needs to be better linked), PCC regularly updates its website and all the relevant information was easy to find. Overall Grade: A

Croesyceiliog and Llanyrafon Community Council

With 15 councillors, this is the second largest in Torfaen. The website is clear and easy to use, and its councillor information page is particularly well done in comparison with the others in the area. Minutes and agendas are updated fairly regularly, though there is no social media presence. Overall Grade: A

Blaenavon Town Council

Representing 12 councillors, BTC has a simple, well laid out website set up. It falls down on the 'regularly updated' part though, with the last meeting minutes uploaded in April 2014. Overall Grade: C/D.

Ponthir Community Council

In spite of its small size - 7 councillors - PCC has a very usable, regularly updated website with all relevant information available. They are on Facebook and the council also puts out a printed newsletter twice a year. Overall Grade: A

Henllys Community Council

With 7 councillors, Henllys, along with Ponthir, is the baby of the bunch. For all that the website manages to pack in loads of information, has regularly updated minutes, and a neat contact page. I couldn't find members' interests, but my only other quibbles are the lack of social media presence and the fact the splash page could do with updating. Overall Grade: A/B

Aside from Blaenavon - which really only needs a good updating session - it looks like Torfaen's town and community councils are all on track!

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