PEOPLE in Ashington are about to get a new place where they can air their views – and it’s something to shout about.
The town council is setting up a website for local people to use, and to promote its launch they are on the lookout for a special person.
“We are on the hunt for a digital town crier, which as far as I am aware, no one has ever done before,” says Tony Brannon, creative director of Newcastle firm Creative Image Design, which is building the news and social network site for the council.
The successful candidate for the unpaid job must be must be an outgoing and passionate person, eager to tweet about all things Ashington, the council says.
They will be given the title of @AshingtonCrier and asked to tell the world about their town via the social networking site Twitter.
Chairman of the council’s communications committee, Coun Brian Gallacher, said: “We are going to make the new website a real go-to source of information for all the residents of Ashington, not just from a council news angle, but for real up-to-the-minute information on everything to do with the region.
“The chosen person will remain anonymous as they then assume the role of town crier for 12 months, when a new person must then be sought.”
Mr Brannon said: “We decided to keep the crier anonymous as a bit of fun really.
“It’s a bit like The Stig from Top Gear – only when the baton is handed over to the next crier will they be revealed and so on. It could become quite intriguing!
“It’s a slightly unusual client for us, but having met the councillors, including the mayor, Coun John McCormack, I was impressed with what they were trying to achieve.
“They’ve been open to some pretty radical ideas as far as councils go.
“The digital crier is just the first stage.”
Town clerk Mike Slaughter said: “The site looks completely different from the approach you would expect from any council.”
The two-year-old town council is looking to establish a closer relationship with the community and sees the website as a great way to promote open discussion.
The social network Ashington-style is being achieved on a tiny annual budget – only £3,000.
Coun Gallacher said the digital town crier would not talk just about council matters, but anything from the weather to the football scores.
“The town council is keen for it to be a member of the public and not someone from the council, otherwise it just wouldn’t work,” he said.
“You find there is no better, more honest advocate of a region than its people and we know there are tweeters out there in the area.
“We’re looking for them to step up to the plate and shout about their town.
“Ideally we are looking for two candidates – one under the age of 18 and another over 18-years-old – to deliver us a wide range of tweets.”
If you are intrigued, visit www.ashingtonneedsyou.co.uk to apply for the job.