FENLANDER: Shape Your Place website goes live across district

A GROUND breaking website that enables ordinary Fenlanders to become community news hounds has gone live across the district. And it is looking for more people to get involved.

The website, www.shapeyourplace.org, lets local people report on what’s going on in their neighbourhood and hold public services to account.

The roll-out across Fenland follows a successful pilot in the Wisbech area. Now each market town and its surrounding villages has its own dedicated area on ShapeYourPlace.

To access their local site, residents simply have to go to www.shapeyourplace.org and click on the map. They can join in conversations, enter debates and back campaigns started by other residents.

The project has trained volunteer community reporters who can blog and video community issues, events and give free publicity to community groups.

Residents can also report problems directly to local councils, the police and the fire service. In return, the services will respond and explain how they will attempt to resolve any issues.

The website for Wisbech has helped sort out a number of problems reported by residents, including repainting a faded zebra crossing, highlighting anti-social behaviour in a play area and clearing fly tipping.

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The project has been developed in partnership by Cambridgeshire County Council, Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue and the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech. It is part of the county council’s “localism” agenda.

Annie Appleby, a volunteer community reporter based in Wisbech, said: “It’s great fun – you get to meet some really inspiring people and celebrate and report on the things you care most about where you live.

“In most cases, where I have raised an issue, local services have responded very promptly. At the very least you get an explanation of how decisions are made.”

* Free training is on offer for anyone wanting to volunteer as a community reporter. Contact Matthew Hall on 01223 699493 or email matthew.hall@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

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