WEXFORD County Council has become the last to be converted to Twitter after it used the website to keep people updated on developments during the cold snap after its phone service became overwhelmed.
The local authority used the social networking and microblogging service to ' tweet' updates on a range of issues from bin collections to when and where water would be turned off. It also took and responded to complaints through Twitter.
Director of Services Niall McGuigan admitted he wasn't very aware of Twitter when he presented the council's review of its 'Severe Weather Response', but said it will be a feature of its communications strategy from now on.
Mr McGuigan said the council used its webpage, Twitter, radio and texts to keep people up-to-date on the latest disruptions to water and refuse services during the cold spell.
He said that Senior Executive Engineer Eddie Taaffe was the 'voice of Wexford County Council' on South East Radio.
Mr McGuigan acknowledged that the emergency call centre in County Hall was 'overwhelmed', despite additional resources being directed towards it, with over 800 calls received in a few days.
However, he said that Twitter allowed them keep people updated with short, sharp messages and also allowed people to report issues to them, which he said were replied to promptly.
'It was a great way of keeping people informed and we'll definitely use it more in the future,' said Mr McGuigan.
Mr McGuigan also revealed that for those who don't use Twitter the council is also planning to set up a system where if you input your mobile phone number and indicate on a map the area where you live through a facility on their website then updates will be texted directly to you concerning the latest developments with local authority services.
Cllr Michael Sheehan wasn't too happy with the council's communication skills during the cold snap though and he said that many people weren't informed when there water was going to be switched off, and restored, as part of conservation measures taken throughout the county.
The councillor said the emergency number was 'a complete failure', indicated by the fact that extra staff were drafted in to support it. He said the council needs to keep people better informed.
'People might not like what you have to say, but if you keep them informed they will accept it,' he said.