Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Why we should do more to sex up local politics; It lets old people cross roads

As part of my role as a local journalist, I go to local council meetings.

Parish council meetings are usually fairly difficult to sit through, larger town council ones are better and county council meetings can be quite lively and exciting.

At many meetings, I am the only person below the age of 45 and I am often the only woman.

At times, they are boring.

And at other times, they are intimidating.

However, I once was in a parish council meeting in a dingy village hall and 50 emotive pensioners came in banging their walking sticks ordering the councillors to agree to fund a £10,000 road crossing for them.

The local politicians were all rather shocked at how passionate the troop of elderly people were. They may also have been scared, either way the money was released imminently.

And, this is why local politics is important. It lets old people cross roads.

After the crossing was built, a 90-year-old man said he was able to cross the road independently for the first time in years.

He could go to the shops, and for him, that was life changing. He no longer had to endure the daily tango with death as he fetched his pint of milk.

I randomly voxpopped some of my friends, ‘I don’t vote because I don’t know enough about it all, and I don’t feel like I should have a say’ was the general response.

Another train of thought was ‘I wasn’t brought up thinking about politics and now I don’t know where to start’.

Take a look around; local politics is everywhere though, from releasing funds to fixing potholes, to deciding if a big development should be built down the road potentially blighting the village, to doing more to get more working class kids into grammar schools.
Councils do really wield power.

I recently reported on a school where students voted for how they thought a pot of county council money should be spent. They had an assembly on the different options, the voting turnout was 90 per cent and they all seemed to be genuinely interested in their community and how it could be improved.

The students are now following up the projects to see how the funds they influenced are being used.

On a local level, councils should be actively trying to get young people involved in the voting process from a young age. Councils need to be made relevant.

The words of my friends really should ring a warning bell to the entire democratic process.

Unless more people turn out and vote, politicians will serve the people who do rather than focussing on each demographic.

And then, how will the councillors know that the old people want to cross the road?

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Office v home working and what will happen if I get an urge to tidy up my sock drawer?

Our office closed down, which means I will be working more from home. Technology makes it increasingly easy to work from home, but for me this simply spells disaster.
For some people, working from home is ideal; you can get out of bed at 8.55am and roll onto your computer - begin to answer work emails in your dressing gown while slurping your bowel of Kellogs.
A guy in my office claimed it was ideal as his clients could relate to him better when they hear his dog barking away in the background of his conversations.
For me, this is a far more problematic set up. I need routine, structure and face to face social stimulation. I need some sort of office banter, even bad office banter.
Each day, when I would drive to work, I would reverse onto a busy London road, which is not the most relaxing way to start a day. I would often have to battle my way through West London, avoiding cyclists and pedestrians to get onto the A40.
At work, I would be more likely to get randomers calling me on the office phones like the woman who thought she had called a beauty salon and our parallel conversations were rather confusing.
I would, however, prefer to do this than work from home. After all, the journey gave me time to listen to Radio Four, I can have lunch with work friends, I can gossip with the receptionist and as a journalist, I can pick up good interview techniques from colleagues.

At home, the issues:
-Distractions, from flatmates to simply having an urge to tidy my sock drawer.
-The fridge is metres away so obesity is simply part of the deal. I could become one of those people who needs to be lifted by a crane as it wasn't ever necessary to leave the flat so I wasn't to realise what was happening (arguably slightly far-fetched).
-There are so many more laptop issues when working from home - so your boss thinks you are being a shirker, but really you are having a panic attack as your laptop won't connect to the system.
- People tend to be ruder on emails than they would be face-to-face, which results in me simply getting in a flap.
-There is a risk that I could spend the entire day inside my pokey basement flat, which may result in me developing hermit-like personality traits.
-There is no real reason to sport bright pink lipstick.
- There is no one to relay the ins and outs of your entire weekend to.