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Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Website campaigning

The use of websites as a campaigning tool is more advanced in some areas than others. I have been involved in a number of campaigns in Bridgend including the fight to stop the development of a green field site at Island Farm and opposition to the off-shore wind farm on Scarweather Sands. In each case the websites of the respective campaign groups and the use of e-mail has been key in rallying support and keeping everybody rapidly informed of developments. It has been a common sight to see banners along the A48 containing website addresses as well as slogans and even businesses in this area advertise their website address prominently at the vergeside. These are the first signs that we are beginning to realise the potential of the internet for communication and campaigning and although we have not yet reached the saturation level of the USA where everybody seems to have their own website and blogs are a common way to spread a message, we are getting there. One of these websites is http://www.bridge.org.uk/. This site was originally set up to campaign against the reconstruction of the roundabout on the A48 at Ewenny. The Council got carried away and put lanes and traffic lights on what is essentially a local roundabout and have created a highway Frankenstein. This site has now evolved into a rallying point for a non-political grouping dedicated to effectively overthrow the current administration on Bridgend County Borough Council. This is not an anti-Labour alliance but anti-Jeff Jones, the Council's controversial leader. He has been particularly critical of some websites in the area, including that set up to promote the Island Farm Prisioner of war camp: 198 / Special Camp: XI The Democraic Forum as it calls itself is now holding meetings to organise candidates for the BCBC elections next May - an example of an active citizenship who rather than turn away from the political system in frustration are prepared to stand up and be counted and make it work for them.

Sunday's weblog entry made the lead article on page one of the Western Mail yesterday. As a result this website had over 1,300 hits in one day. Unintentional as this was, it made for a very effective relaunch.

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