POLITICAL debate is at the heart of a new Facebook group launched in Uttoxeter – by a councillor from Branston. Within 24 hours, the group had more than 350 members – double the amount of people who responded to the two-week consultation on the Uttoxeter Masterplan in September.
The ‘Uttoxeter Deserves Better’ group was launched on Monday and, as the Echo went to press, had attracted more than 397 members. Cllr Richard Grosvenor, former leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council (ESBC), launched the group after asking residents in the town how they felt about the level of representation at local government.
Ward member for Branston at ESBC, Richard has served as a councillor for more than 16 years and believes Uttoxeter is the most politically active area within the borough. He said: “People in Uttoxeter are invested in politics and invested in their town. But there has been debate over people feeling they weren’t being listened to. There are some fantastic active groups on Facebook in Uttoxeter, but they are generally for community activities and news, and understandably prefer to stay away from political debate.
“There was a clear need for people to vent their frustrations and opinions, to be able to have a debate. The group will allow residents to do that freely, as we only intend to moderate any bullying or abusive content. This is also an opportunity to help people get a better of understanding of how local government works and there have already been examples of people sharing information and ideas that are really constructive.
“Uttoxeter is one of the most politically charged areas in East Staffordshire and the town has a role to play in the wider borough community. At the moment, five senior roles at ESBC are held by members from the Uttoxeter area, including the leader, deputy leader, cabinet support member, deputy chairman of planning and chairman of audit. For East Staffordshire to succeed, Uttoxeter needs to succeed – that is clear. Which is why as a borough councillor from another area I am keen to hear what people are saying in the town and take those views back to borough level.
“One thing we’ve learned over the course of the pandemic is that we’ve had to find new ways of working and communicating. It’s been difficult to get actively involved and that’s why social media is an outlet now.”
Posts in the group include discussion over the Uttoxeter Masterplan, praising the work of individual councillors and debate over Government funding as well as raising concerns over provision for children with Special Educational Needs and sharing ideas about the future of the town.
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