A time to listen

29th April 2017 I was asked to facilitate a community session for the Mayor of Bristol (Marvin Rees) and Kerry McCarthy MP. The localised issues raised at community engagement sessions can often be listed beforehand housing, transport, education, fly-tipping, but nesting amongst these issues was the ongoing ramifications of Brexit. The audience while not large certainly reflected the diverse nature of opinion concerning the Brexit debate. What became clear during the session was that when politicians listen and engage with the fears and concerns of ordinary people a more considered debate takes place, which in turn helps forge a more objective understanding of the complex issues that are often presented in simplistic headlines. My lesson from facilitating this session is that we need to develop ways of breaking down the often perceived barriers between elected representatives and the general public.

It will not be easy, but social media has its limitations. There is no real substitute for eye to eye contact and exchange of opinions, which often energises and secures the principle of accountability. We have allowed the vilification of our elected representatives to cloud our wider engagement in our democracy. That is not to say some of our MPs and elected representatives have not been the cause of their own vilification. But there is a space, a void and dare I say a responsibility we need to claim back to make our democracy and accountability work.

If we are to recapture hearts and minds then it will need to be done community by community, neighbourhood by neighbourhood reconstructing the relationship and replacing it with politics that works for people.

Riders of the Storm, Weston-super-Mare

There is nothing quite like standing still and watching a storm cloud gather. The power and exhilaration of mother nature can literally take your breath away and put into perspective where real influence sits. 25th April 2017, Weston-super-Mare beach blue skies, sunshine, hail stones, freezing winds, pelting stormy rain all within 1 hour. The complete set of photographs can be found here

Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

In a narrow sense, the name refers to the range of Old Red Sandstone peaks which lie to the south of Brecon. Sometimes referred to as “the central Beacons” they include South Wales’ highest mountain, Pen y Fan. The range forms the central section of the Brecon Beacons National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog), a designation which also encompasses ranges both to the east and the west of “the central Beacons”. This much wider area is also commonly referred to as “the Brecon Beacons”, and it includes the Black Mountains to the east as well as the similarly named but quite distinct Black Mountain to the west. The highest peaks include Fan Brycheiniog to the west and Pen y Fan in the central part. They share the same basic geology as the central range, and so exhibit many similar features, such the north-facing escarpment and glacial features such as lakes and cwms below the escarpment. They all fall within the border of the national park. Read more here¬†and visiting information here