For the past few weeks, I’ve been helping to co-ordinate the enormous logistical challenge of a 24-hour tweet-fest of the myriad services provided every day by Redcar & Cleveland Council.
Now, let’s be honest, when it comes to a Twitter day in the life of a local authority we’re not so much late to the party as stood outside at 4am banging on the door while everyone inside has collapsed on the sofa after the booze ran out.
But it is something new to us and we’re just a bit excited about it. It’s taken a splash of educating, a spot of encouraging and a sprinkling of cajoling to get the green light for us to join the LGA’s #OurDay initiative on September 27th.
It’s designed to showcase the hundreds and thousands of little things councils and councillors do every day in serving their communities.
We’ve been fortunate to be able to research the wonderful groundbreaking stuff from the likes of Walsall Council in staging this kind of experiment.
And as I’ve discovered over the past few days, council life is about infinitely more than collecting the bins and filling in holes in the road.
Shining a light
By 6am, for example, 338 litres of milk have hit the roads, ready for delivery to under-5s at our nurseries. Our environmental health and safety folks are responsible for 41 private water supplies – homes which receive their water from streams or boreholes. We have port health officers, inspecting the hundreds of ships coming into the industrial behemoth that is Teesport every year.
I know all this – and so, so much more – for the simple reason that teams and departments across the council have been brilliantly forthcoming in telling us about all they do.
We’d not asked for details of award-winning projects, of multi-million pound schemes or tales of heroism.
We’d asked for the basics. The routine stuff that they do each and every day, probably without even thinking, which when all brought together will create a detailed picture of public service over a 24-hour period.
And everyone has responded superbly. Because who doesn’t want a little bit of recognition for the effort they put in day in, day out?
We really have been rummaging about in some dark and dusty corners, shining a light and finding people carrying out exemplary and important duties in the name of serving our diverse communities. They’ll be getting their time in the Twitter spotlight on OurDay.
In fact, I’ve not had one “Twitter? I haven’t got time for this” e-mail. Some positive responses have run into seven or eight Word pages.
So barring technological meltdown, @RedcarCleveland will be recording ’24 Hours in R&C’ from midnight onwards on September 27th.
Better late than never. Oh, and I’m on the midnight to midday shift, so all Red Bull donations gratefully received.