People power brings out stars by Monica Sloan, Oxford Mail
People power brings out star
It was a proud day for community website editor Nicholas Newman when the Christmas lights were turned on in Headington this year.
For Nicholas, who runs the Headington Forum site, the festive stars decorating the streets were a triumph over the sparse decorations provided for the city centre this year.
Various residents groups, including Headington Forum, teamed up with Headington Business Association to provide some festive symbols of the area's community and Christmas spirit.
About 500 people watched the lights being switched on and Old High Street was closed for festivities earlier this month.
Nicholas, of Ash Grove, Headington, is using the free CommuniGate Internet service to publish the Headington Forum newsletter online and bring important local information to a wider audience.
The 40-year-old economic developer says the site has been very successful circulation of his newsletter has almost doubled since the site was created in early November.
"Readership has grown from 600 to 1,000 and I have received a lot of e-mails and phone calls as a result of the website," he said.
Anyone can log on to the site to find out about news, events and issues affecting the area and contribute articles and comments using the e-mail link and messageboard.
A poll enables readers to vote on topical issues. The present one asks readers whether Headington should be independent of Oxford.
Current discussions on the forum include the transport strategy in Oxford, the prospect of a tram system in the city and the controversial plans to move Acland Hospital to Headington.
Nicholas also provides online guidance for residents who want to take action but are not sure how to go about it. "I wrote a public relations plan so that anyone who wants to get into campaigning knows what to do," he explained.
The site is particularly useful for recruiting volunteers and obtaining financial support for projects in the area. One reader provided the site with information about her planned trek across to Tibet to raise money for Mencap.
***To find out more about the issues affecting Headington and for information about future events and projects in the pipeline, including the summer book festival, go to the Headington Forum website