Talking Politics by Councillor Mark Birkett - Is it good to talk?

October 2, 2006 12:00 AM
Councillor Mark Birkett - Listening to YOU!

Councillor Mark Birkett - Listening to YOU!

First and foremost, I got into local politics because, like many of you, I believe we face a stark choice in Rochdale; either to get to grips with the Town's enormous challenges today or face irreversible decline tomorrow. However, the re-invention of post-industrial Rochdale is something which cannot happen unless everyone feels a sense of ownership and responsibility for where Rochdale is headed. That, in my view, can only happen if we start at street-level up, rather than the other way round.

Secondly, after seeing so much political disenchantment on the doorstep in the run-up to the election, I became convinced that people need to be doubly-reassured that their voice does matter when it comes to local issues.

That's why I have been involved in setting up brand-new neighbourhood forums across Kingsway; the first three already up and running in the Belfield and Newbold areas. The groups have already set up new websites, planted trees, organised litter pick days and many other community events. I have also offered my support to such groups already in existence. Such forums offer everyone nearby a place to come to air their concerns, get their voice heard, share their expertise, their generosity and above all to get things done. They also allow Councillors like me to take matters of concern to Council level in a much more representative and inclusive way. In turn, even if we don't always manage to achieve what a particular forum wants, at least they are an informal place where progress at Council level can be fed back to the communities. Importantly, it also reminds everyone that they have a responsible part to play too.

OK, so that's a bit about what I've been doing but what haven't I done? Well, I have yet to do anything significantly earth-shattering in my role as Green Champion for Rochdale Township but I intend to make progress on that in the coming year. (Meantime, I do fully endorse the Council's efforts on recycling and know that we must all try harder to consume and pollute less than we do). Similarly, I intend to make progress with Belfield Primary School in my new role as a school governor there. Last but not least, as a member of the Town Centre Development Committee, I would encourage everyone to take part in the impending public consultations on our Town Centre's new look. After all, this is your chance to avoid another 'Black Box'!

So that's it so far. Meantime, if you agree that Rochdale can be made a better place by supporting local forums like those above, get in touch with me today. It is good to talk! 07944 814297