Tag Archives: Lichfield District Council

Think open data is just the realm of geeks? Not in Lichfield…

This is partly the reason why I love Lichfield so much. Our council CEO recently joined Twitter and was last night tweeting (much revered) webmaster, Stuart Harrion;

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/Ninadawesldc/status/133285420699095042″]

Where else do you get a council chief exec tweeting her webby on a Sunday evening about the Open Government License?!


Filming council meetings – my progress in Lichfield

So, after Chris Taggart was asked to leave a meeting of Windsor & Maidenhead for trying to video it, while SE1 managed to get permission to record Southwark Council meetings I decided to see what I could do in Lichfield. Here’s what I did.

  1. I sent an e-mail through Lichfield District Council’s generic contact form.
  2. I was then called by Richard King, Strategic Director of Democratic, Development and Legal Services who asked me a number of questions such as why I wanted to film and where the resulting video would end up. I explained that I work on The Lichfield Blog and it would probably end up there but would likely be embeddable (sic?) to other sites. Richard promised to talk internally and get back to me.
  3. A few days later I received a call from Richard in which he said that in principle it would be acceptable and we agreed that I would meet him and Elizabeth Thatcher, Communications Manager, before a Cabinet meeting to discuss the specifics.
  4. Before the Cabinet meeting Richard and Lizzie showed me the meeting rooms and we discussed where I could position myself to get a good shot of the proceedings (outside the public/press ‘pen’) and we chatted about making sure I could be discreet so as not to impact the meeting itself. We agreed that in order to get councillors and any visitors used to the idea I would begin filming as soon as I had the equipment to do so but without publishing the video. The idea is that this will ensure any concerns are ironed out before the film is made available to the world.
  5. I will now attend Cabinet, Full Council and Planning Committee meetings (maybe Overview & Scrutiny, too) just to see them in action so I get used to the format. Once I have a way to record video I will begin to record them and we’ll work out the specifics through learning by doing. Although, I’ve sent Richard and Lizzie a link to Paul’s recent post talking through Southwark’s guidance which should help & offered my own take.

I’ll blog again with further significant updates, as they come along. For now, I encourage everyone running a local blog to do the same in their area and contribute to the investigation.

Recognition for The Lichfield Blog just keeps on growing…

When I first got involved in The Lichfield Blog back in February this year I had no idea that six months later I’d be writing a business plan for a brand new social enterprise.

The Lichfield Blog banner up at Fuse Acoustic '09
The Lichfield Blog banner up at Fuse Acoustic '09

I never thought I’d be looking at stats showing an average of 11,000 visitors each month (equivalent to over 10% of Lichfield District’s population* and a third of the circulation of leading print weekly, the Lichfield Mercury). Nor did I imagine it would spur such cool things as Lichfield Social Media Cafe and Lichfield Social Media Surgeries (both still in planning). I would have laughed if you’d have told me I’d be live-streaming local artists at Lichfield’s Fuse Festival. A look of disbelief would accompany the thought of our MP, Mike Fabricant advertising on the site.

I knew we’d do lots of very cool things with it – as seems to be customary now my brain buzzed with ideas for exciting developments as soon as I saw it. I’m taken aback by the way things have played out though.

When I first started working freelance in November 2007 my aim was to be a leader in my industry. The heavy involvement in The Lichfield Blog and the recognition it’s seen has proven to me that I’m starting to achieve that.

That recognition has seen a massive boost over the past few weeks for two big reasons. The first is securing Michael Fabricant MP as an advertiser on the blog. He was our third advertiser and (we think) the first MP to advertise on a hyperlocal media site. Rick Waghorn of Addiply (the ad system we use) took the opportunity to shout about it that very afternoon at NewsInnovation London. I saw the tweets rolling in and I could barely contain my elation at having made such an impact.

Second reason, and the inspiration for this post, is that today Lichfield District Council have (after I sent them a cheeky tweet) changed their “Local Newspapers” section to “Local Media” and included The Lichfield Blog. They’re even syndicating us! I’m still undecided as to whether to check the other 353 local government district web sites to see if Lichfield is the only one to do so…

Both of these also come after what I consider to be a huge compliment from Birmingham Mail who recently started syndicating us along with our friends, Tamworth Blog and local blogger, Brownhill’s Bob. I call this traditional and new media meeting and getting along nicely – aka a sneak peak into the future of local media.

I know this is just the start though. All this has been achieved with the only expenditure being less than £100 and the time of a small team of dedicated and passionate volunteers (I say only, but it takes a lot of time). With the extra help and support we’re hoping to get as part of our future plans it’s obvious to me that The Lichfield Blog is going to move on leaps and bounds.

I can’t wait!

* based on data from the Office for National Statistics.

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