25 July 2006

Derek Wyatt's website

Derek Wyatt says his site shows people what he does

Politicians should use the internet to fight cynicism among voters, said Labour MP Derek Wyatt as he scooped an award for his website.Mr Wyatt won the elected representative section at the New Statesman magazine’s new media awards.

He said websites could help MPs show their constituents what they did and how they could make a difference.

Environment Secretary David Miliband was highly commended in the competition for his recently-started blog.

The judges said Mr Wyatt had used new technologies on his site to communicate with local constituents.

“His mix of weekly blog entries and podcasts provide users with a variety of means to keep updated on Wyatt’s work and local issues,” they said.

‘Working hard’

Mr Wyatt said about 10,000 people visited the website every week, with 60,000 weekly hits.

In the last few days he had been able to post emails from constituents thanking him for getting money from a benefits agency for them.

“People can see the effectiveness of my office and it shows them that we are not all cynical politicians buying cowboy boots,” he told BBC News in a clear reference to John Prescott.

“Some of us are working very hard.”

Mr Wyatt is now planning to run more podcasts to see if he can get greater numbers of younger people interested in the site.

Democratic conduit

Other winners at the awards included the WriteToThem website, which helps people find and contact their local councillors, MPs, MEPs, MSPs, Welsh or London Assembly members for free.

The site, which is run by the charity MySociety, won the contribution to civil society award.

Judges said it was a “wonderful example of a service which the government could provide”.

“WriteToThem is a superb conduit for democracy and the exchange of ideas via the 21st Century’s technological world,” they said.

Other winners were:

Education award: Sonic postcards. Highly commended http://www.filmstreet.co.uk and http://mapzone.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/giszone.

Advocacy award: PledgeBank

Accessibility award: Commission for Social Care Inspection

Independent information award: OpenDemocracy. Highly commended: http://www.foia.blogspot.com (about the Freedom of Information Act)

Innovation: BBC Backstage. Highly commended: Readspeaker Podcaster

Modernising government: Love Lewisham. Highly commended: Stop Crime – Devon and Cornwall Police. http://www.stopcrime.co.uk/

Contribution to civil society: Highly commended: Patient Opinion.


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