Recent Hansard Society report revealed MPs are using the internet primarily to talk to their constituents rather than listen to them or respond to their concerns. A study for councillors would probably return much the same results.
A key role of hyperlocal sites is enabling listening . Imagine you could listen in at your local cafe whenever you want from wherever you are and hear what the locals are saying about the council and about what was important for them.
Hyperlocal sites can also act as an "early warning" system , giving notice about issues bubbling up in the community.
Is it enough for councillors to just to listen? Should you also engage ? If you do will you be creating a rod for your own back?
There’s a balance to be struck - you can’t respond to everything and residents will understand this.
Whether implicit or explicit there’s a workable deal to be done with online communities about how often and when councillors contribute and respond.
When responses are made by councillors on Harringay Online, the reaction is usually overwhelmingly positive .
Use hyperlocal to help focus your engagement energy . A local politician came to Harringay Online recently with a request - “How can I best use your site to identify opportunities for casework for the residents in my area?”