Friday, 14 June 2013

ShapeYourPlace.Org Comes To The City And South Cambridgeshire

An award winning website where people can question local services and get action is launching in the City and South Cambridgeshire on 18 June.

The ground breaking www.ShapeYourPlace.org lets local people talk directly to local public services about the issues that matter most to them.

The site can also help community organisations and groups share news and help them promote activities and events via blogs, images and video.

As part of the launch, the ShapeYourPlace.org team will have a market stall outside the Guildhall on 18 June. Everyone is welcome to come along to find out more about the project.

There will be a site for Cambridge and a site for South Cambridgeshire in what will be a real first for the two areas. Local people can go online to discuss, start campaigns, report problems and join conversations with each other and local public services which will try and resolve issues where possible.

ShapeYourPlace.org links with local councils, the Police, the Fire and Rescue Service and other organisations to make sure when issues are raised an answer can be found.

In Fenland, East Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, where ShapeYourPlace.org has been active, the site has been a success. It has attracted thousands of visitors and helped resolve many local issues including highway problems, public drinking offenses, environment issues and helped local groups attract volunteers.

The launch also represents a key milestone for ShapeYourPlace.org as it will now cover the whole county placing all Cambridgeshire's communities at the heart of decision-making.

ShapeYourPlace.org has been developed by Cambridgeshire County Council working with its partners, the Police, the district councils and the Fire Service.

Although anyone can use the site, the project also trains volunteer community reporters who cover local events and activities via video and blogs.

County Councillor Martin Curtis, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "We're very excited about bringing ShapeYourPlace.org to Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire. At the heart of ShapeYourPlace.org is the ethos of open democracy. It can really help local people get answers, and where possible, get things done in their communities. It's also a one stop shop in that people don't have to worry who to report the problem to, the website does it all for you. We'll be working very hard to make sure ShapeYourPlace continues to be successful and I'd like to thank residents and all our partners - the police, the fire service and the district councils for all their support so far."

Inspector Chris Savage, from Cambridgeshire Police, said: "This facility will enhance a range of existing community engagement tools used by us to communicate with residents and deal with issues of local concern. ShapeYourPlace will enable us to broaden that consultation and, working with colleagues from local councils, deliver a more effective response to local concerns.”

District Councillor Pippa Corney, South Cambridgeshire District Council's Cabinet Member for New Communities, said: "ShapeYourPlace will bring together the residents, organisations and groups that make up our communities and give them a place online to debate, share information and discuss the problems facing their local area. What's more, where people raise an issue, we, together with Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, the police and the fire service, can respond and help to resolve the problem wherever possible. It lets local people get answers about the questions that matter most to them and I would encourage everyone to get involved."

Andrew Limb, Head of Corporate Strategy at Cambridge City Council said: “From what I have seen from other areas, being a community reporter on ShapeYourPlace looks tremendous fun. You get to learn some great new skills, meet some really inspiring and interesting people while being able to report on the things you care most about.”

Rick Hylton, Area Commander at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "ShapeYourPlace is proving to be a valuable tool for us to communicate life-saving fire safety messages directly to people in the local community. Our crew at Ely Fire Station have been using the scheme in East Cambridgeshire since it started and because of it, they feel more involved with those living in the area and have received lots of positive feedback.

"We welcome its launch across the county and would encourage residents, community groups and other organisations to get involved in shaping their area, like our firefighters have done."