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Shadow a Brighton and Hove councillor
A Brighton councillor is offering residents the chance to see exactly what she gets up to on their behalf.
Christina Summers, an independent councillor on Brighton and Hove City Council, has set up a shadowing scheme as a way to get more people to have a say in how decisions are made.
In a pilot over the summer, three people spent a month in her shoes, following her to meetings and being given the chance to raise issues themselves.
The pilot was deemed a big success, and it could now be extended across the city with the hope that all councillors will adopt the idea as a regular aspect of their work.
Coun Summers, who represents Hollingdean and Stanmer ward, said: “I wanted to find a way to open up the inner workings of the council to its citizens and reveal the increasing restrictions under which we are forced to function as well as the myriad good works we do under the circumstances.”
After approaching the University of Brighton, politics students Ghotie Ahmadi and Michael Barradell were selected to take part over their summer holiday.
This resulted in them raising the issue of student accommodation rents at a meeting of all councillors and asking them to look again at restrictions on houses of multiple occupancy.
Mr Barradell said: “Taking part in full council was definitely a highlight. This programme has influenced what I may choose to study in my final year.”
Robin Berry, secretary of the Coldean Community Forum, also took part.
It culminated in him quizzing council chiefs on why they had put so many signs in the area to enforce a controlled parking area.
Mr Berry said: “The forum and I work alongside our councillors and officers on many issues that affect Coldean and I was really keen to gain further insight into the council and try to see things from their point of view.
“It was a genuine eye-opener.”
Coun Summers said: “I’m afraid it’s no longer possible to assume that individual responsibility for our city ends with payment of council tax.”
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