‘My blog lessons will save council money’

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A WIGAN councillor has offered to share his blogging expertise to save the authority money.

As members of councillors’ services group met to discuss training sessions for members to set up blogs, Coun Gareth Fairhurst disagreed with the idea of spending funds to source external coaches, opting to lead workshops.

Coun Fairhurst says he has plenty of knowledge on the subject, having set up his own blog in 2009.

The Standish Independent member said that as he had been recognised worldwide and was featured in an article by digital marketing expert David Meerman Scott.

He believes he has enough knowledge to educate others, rather than allow the council to spends hundreds of pounds on professional trainers. He said: “Now Wigan Council has realised how popular my blog has become, with 5,000 hits per month, it is looking to employ an external company to train councillors how to write and do blogs.

“What a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.

“Blogs can be useful but members should be able to do them by themselves, or ask another councillor how to do it if they don’t know how.

“It is simple to do and a quick Google shows you many different ways to do them too and taxpayers of Wigan shouldn’t be expected to pay for this.

“We do not know how many councillors want to blog, so how can they come up with the idea to get external contractors in?

”I suspect if they pay for external trainers, it would be another tick box exercise for the council.”

But a spokesman for Wigan Council said that at present, no money had been spent on training councillors to set up blogs and no decisions had been made.

Paul McKevitt, deputy chief executive of Wigan Council, said: “Like employees, elected members have a personal development plan, which sets out their personal goals and highlights areas of improvement for the year.

“One area councillors have said that they are keen to improve on is their social media skills.

“As an elected member, it is important that they are able to communicate and interact with the community effectively and social media provides a great platform for this.

“We will now review whether training will need to be provided to improve their skills.

“There may not necessarily be a direct cost associated with this as training may be sourced internally, from our communications department or from fellow councillors who have already familiarised themselves with and are active users of social media.”