CONCERNS have been raised that Andover residents have ‘lost faith’ in their town council, as the authority prepares to develop a Back to Basics strategy.

Some councillors feel like ‘little weight’ should be given to social media comments, while others feel as though it gives a fair reflection of the council’s poor reputation.

Members agreed a Back to Basics regime last year, which is now in the process of being developed and will see the town council strip back its spending to focus on just a few key areas including allotments and Christmas lights.

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In a first draft of the new strategy, produced by Andover Town Council officers, “public perception” was raised as an area for consideration.

The document, which was considered by the council’s policy and resources committee on Tuesday, January 18, reads: “The Town Council has not carried out an opinion survey. However, by following comments on social media, the reputation of the Town Council is very low.

“The public have lost faith in the Council and consider that Council and Committees waste time and do not make strategic or timely decisions.”

Justifying its inclusion in the draft, town council clerk Wendy Coulter added: “It’s a generalisation, but from our point of view if you are out in the town and you happen to mention you work for the council, people say ‘Oh you don’t work for the town council do you?’”

Cllr Nigel Long: “Personally, I object to the public perception, about the comments on social media. I don’t think we should give that much weight to the comments, as it’s a very small number of people who actually see these posts.”

Cllr Luigi Gregori added that he felt it was down to a lack of knowledge, adding: “Most members of the public don’t understand. The amount of case work I get that I am expected to do because I am a town councillor is amazing!

“People will always complain about town councils because it’s the one that has the most impact on them. I think what we need is a period of stability.”

However, Cllr Stu Waue disagreed, urging members to take feedback on board.

He said: “It may only be a handful of people complaining, or seeing the complaints. But how many people are you seeing with good things to say? Somewhere about zero?

SEE ALSO: Andover Town Council considers options for new office

“So we can't write off that a small number of people perceive us to be bad. We just have to try and turn it around.”

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