Can TV help prove councils are more than just bins?

A few weeks ago I was really interested to read that Wigan Council had agreed to be featured in the next series of the BBC’s Call the Council series, a fly on the wall documentary going ‘behind the scenes’ at a local authority.

Obviously I’m going to be particularly interested in this, as I work for a (different) local authority, and I actually live within the area covered by Wigan Council.

I also have some ideas of the conversations and considerations that will have gone on behind the scenes in deciding to take part in the programme.

This morning I was reading a piece on the Guardian online by Donna Hall, Chief Exec of Wigan Council, in which she defends this decision after some apparent criticism of them for doing so.

You can read the full piece here – and I recommend you do so.

Of course I had a wry smile when I read the bit about the last strike action, and the hundreds of social media messages of complaint, the common theme being “when am I going to get a refund on my council tax” – I’m sure anyone managing local Government social media accounts is familiar with that one!

But I think Ms Hall’s article really puts across well why they have agreed to do this – so that people will hopefully understand the breadth of services your local authority provides. Many of us are lucky enough not to need many of them – but if you did need them, believe me, you’d notice if they weren’t around.

In this time of cuts and budget pressures on local authorities they need to make sure their voice is heard more than ever. Hopefully programmes like Call the Council will play a part in doing that – and we as communicators need to keep playing our role.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished programme, and well done to Wigan for being the ones to put themselves under the spotlight, hopefully for the benefit of local authorities up and down the country.

Not sure it’ll stop the Facebook ‘haters’, though!