What would a tour of local councils be like?


…because who else would undertake something like this?

I’ve been pondering something like this for quite some time, and sort of attempted a random tour of parts of southern England in the summer of 2000 during my university years. Me and an old school friend literally stuck pins in a map and decided to go wherever the pin landed. Hence ending up in Colchester, Portsmouth (where I found HMS Warrior to be far more interesting than HMS Victory, the latter of which had much of its superstructures & armaments replaced by tacky plastic replicas), The Isle of Wight and Chatham naval base!

In recent visits to various places locally, I’ve always found myself drawn to the town hall to ask myself the question of what the town hall tells us about the history and its people.


What does the above tell you about the port of Ipswich? (Other than they have a better town hall than Cambridge? Note at the time Ipswich’s hall was being built, Cambridge’s one was as below – the current one being a 1930s design)


Image via Fonz Chamberlain at https://www.facebook.com/fonzchamberlain79/?fref=ts

At the same time Cambridge going through monumental changes and growth – I counted fifteen cranes from one vantage point in my neighbourhood of South Cambridge on a walk recently. At the same time, there is a growing interest in local history of Cambridge the town. Fonz Chamberlain is the person to go to at https://www.facebook.com/fonzchamberlain79/ and http://cambridgehistorian.blogspot.co.uk/. See his picture albums of Cambridge in the 1970s and Cambridge in the 1980s and you get a sense of just how much history we lost with the development of both Lion Yard and The Grafton Centre.

“What would a tour of town halls achieve?”

It’s not just the town halls – which are of a personal random interest, but also of the local councils themselves. I want to get a feel for what other local councils are doing in this social media era to see if there is anything that we can use and apply in Cambridge. At the same time, I want to document it using digital video and social media. Also, it might be the chance to meet long time social media followers face-to-face while seeing other parts of the country while I still reasonably have the health for it. Also, I can bring a dragon with me. A sort of #PufflesOnTour project.

Actually, that pretty much encapsulated what I’d like to do in an ideal world. Spend a couple of days in each place, go to a community action gathering followed by a full council meeting the following day. That way, I get to meet and film both community activists and councillors at the same time. Furthermore, putting something like this together might just get one or two more people active or interested in what local democracy in their area is all about. (I’m not going to claim that the presence of Puffles will lead to the public galleries being packed out…)

It’s more likely that it’ll be the smaller things that will make the difference – such as activists seeing a meeting filmed for the first time, to me filming something that is then picked up on by councillors in Cambridge that they can apply here or to their wards.

“Being dependent on public transport”

That’s also going to be part of the fun – given the cuts they’ve had to face. How does Cambridge compare to other areas in terms of availability and prices? This compares to past visits during my civil service days when I could turn up somewhere by train and go everywhere by taxi, claiming it all back as work expenses. This, being self-funded I won’t have such luxuries – or if I do, it’ll be me paying for it. Also, where I stay overnight I’d want to not stay in one of those corporate identikit hotels but in places where people know the area. This could range from a ‘jewel in the crown’ landmark venue in a town through to a pub with a B&N to crashing out on a mattress at a friends flat.

“Could your area host me and a cuddly dragon fairy?”

Have you got anything interesting coming up that might benefit from having someone film it?  Would you like your area to feature in such a tour? If so, please leave a comment in the comments field.



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