Call for council to boost its profile

Axminster Town Council to produce a regular newsletter and consider manning a weekly stand in the market

Axminster town council is looking to engage more closely with the public.

It wants residents to readily identify its members and better understand what they do.

But councillors had mixed views on the best way to go about raising their profile when they met last week.

Councillor John Stevenson suggested they had a town council stand at the weekly market – like they did at Bridport. It could be manned by councillors who would give out leaflets about what they authority had done and what it planned to do in the future.

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Mayor Andrew Moulding said the difficulty with that idea was that those manning the stand would not necessarily be able to speak for all the town council when questioned about topics.

Councilor Sue Spiller said they had tried holding a regular surgery at Millwey Rise, involving local councillors and police so that people could go along and ask questions. But in the end no members of the public turned up.

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She said: “The point comes when, however hard you try to put time in the public domain, they don’t want to give time to chitty chat to us. Also many of us work so we could not all do this.”

Councillor Graham Godbeer said he had sympathy with Cllr Stevenson’s aim to try and improve engagement with the public.

“But there is a hardcore of people not interested in being engaged,” he said. “I could see once a month in the market, in the summer, might be worth trying but a council newsletter might be more appropriate – if it was put in the local paper it would be widely read.”

Cllr Moulding agreed, adding: ”We are lucky to have an excellent local press which give our views good coverage.”

Councillor Sarah Leat said: “But there are a large amount of people who don’t know who we are or what we do.”

Councillor Douglas Hull said they could produce a fact sheet with their pictures and details about all the councillors and what they tried to do.

Councillor Ian Hall said: “We do need to relaunch ourselves as a council. People just aren’t interested, but how do we inspire them? I just don’t know.”

The council agreed to go ahead with plans for a regular newsletter to keep residents informed about its activities and also to investigate the possibility of having a market stand. Appointed to the working group were Cllrs Hull, Symes, Godbeer and Stevenson.

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