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ACTION is being taken to increase the sense of community spirit in North Swindon after the number of residents at local meetings plummeted.

In the area, public attendance at locality meetings has reached an all-time low, with as few as four people attending some meetings, meaning there are often more speakers than audience members.

Work is under way to try to increase the sense of community spirit, with the first North Swindon family fun day planned for later this year.

Last month saw the appointment of a new chairman of the North Locality Group, Councillor Oliver Donachie (Con, Haydon Wick) who says it is his aim to increase attendance at these meetings over the next 12 months.

He said: “In many ways it is perfectly understandable people only come to the meetings when there is something bothering them.

“How often do you ring your gas company up to tell them they’re doing a good job? It’s a similar principle.

“What I want to encourage is greater engagement from people. Public Question Time is the most important part of the locality for me and it is what I want to make central to future meetings.

“If people feel they can come and ask us the councillors, the police, or any other representative about an issue then these meetings can be the place to do that.”

While turnout at meetings may be low, North Swindon may also represent the new face of community interaction.

Away from the meeting rooms, there are a number of vibrant groups on Facebook where residents regularly discuss issues affecting North Swindon, from parking problems to the safety of Thamesdown Drive.

It is through social media that much of the information about the North Swindon fun day has been spread.

“Facebook is an absolutely fantastic way for people to communicate,” said Coun Donachie.

“There are a lot of people who use it as way of contacting myself or a number of the other councillors with problems which we can then try to deal with.

“We are told to be careful with social media because it is full of problems. We only need to say one thing out of turn and there will be a backlash.

“However, it hasn’t happened yet so I’m going to stick with it.”