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Matthew Hancock
Your Local MP

Why not become the voice of your community?

Monday, 8th January 2007.

What have firefighters, builders, young mums, factory workers, retired people, doctors, cleaners, your next door neighbour – and you – have in common? Along with everyone else, they are being urged to consider if they could ‘be the voice of their community’ through an innovative campaign launched by St Edmundsbury.

The borough council has designed the ‘voice of your community’ campaign to encourage people from a wide range of social and ethnic backgrounds to consider standing as candidates in the local elections in May. It is hoped the project will help raise awareness of the role councillors play within the community and give more detail about the variety of challenges and responsibilities the job involves.

Leaflets giving information about the campaign have already been circulated through the council’s Community Spirit magazine and to every parish council in the borough. St Edmundsbury has also put together job packs, which contain a wealth of information about everything from the democratic process and decision-making to members’ allowances and has already been sent out to some potential candidates. Local businesses have also been contacted and asked to encourage their employees to consider standing.

Cllr Jeff Stevens, Chairman of St Edmundsbury’s Democratic Renewal Panel, said:

“The role of councillor is varied and can be hugely rewarding. We hope this campaign will encourage people to find out more about what the job entails and consider standing themselves as democracy is dependent on involvement from people of all ages, views and backgrounds.”

The campaign has won the support of Ron Overton, Chief Executive of St Nicholas’ Hospice, in Bury St Edmunds. He said:

“Encouraging people from varied backgrounds to get involved in the decision-making process is essential for local democracy and I will be urging our staff and volunteers to look carefully at the job packs.”

Workshops giving more information will take place at the Borough Offices on Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, on Wednesday, 17 January and Tuesday, 6 February. They will run between 6pm and 7.30pm and will give a brief overview of the decision-making process, budget setting, how scrutiny works and the support available to councillors, such as allowances and training and development opportunities. It is hoped the sessions will give potential candidates the opportunity to ask questions and get a feel for what the role involves. Going to a workshop does not commit you to anything further – its simply a chance to find out more about a councillor’s role.

To reserve a place at one of these workshops, or to request a job pack giving more information about standing as a candidate, contact St Edmundsbury’s elections team on 01284 757131.

Details of the ‘voice of your community’ campaign are also available on the council’s website at www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk

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