Watchdog to keep a guard on council

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A watchdog group recently set up on Facebook to monitor the actions of the new ACBC council is already questioning why ratepayers cannot post comments on the council’s Facebook page.

The page, called the Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Council Watchdog Group, was set up earlier this month in response to requests from residents following the success of the ABC BAG page where the same organisers successfully challenged the council’s plan to enforce a four-weekly household rubbish collection scheme.

Organisers feel the fact that the electorate cannot post to the new council’s page makes this group even more vital. “It was just set up on Wednesday and already we have a good nucleus of members which will grow daily,” said Paul Scappaticci, speaking on behalf of the group.

“We feel that there is a need for this type of page so that ratepayers have an outlet to express both positive and negative comments about the people who are making decisions in their name. We have several ACBC councillors who have joined already.”

Mr Scappaticci had contacted the ACBC Council to ask why ratepayers could not post comments on the page.

“The private messages between the ACBC council and myself were stock answers telling me and anyone else who wants to contact them to do so by private message, hardly the actions of a transparent government.

“For all its faults the old Banbridge council page welcomed interaction with its electorate.”

The council further informed Mr Scappitici that its Facebook page is to keep the community informed of events and other things happening in the council area and that if individuals wanted to contact them using social media they could use the private messaging service.

“Maybe they are afraid of a lot of negative comments getting into the public domain,” he added.

Encouraging ratepayers to keep informed of council decisions, organisers said: “Remember that your elected councillors are there to represent you. If you are aware of anything you feel is good or bad that the public should be aware of, then please let us know about it”.