Shropshire council has started trialling mobile messaging service WhatsApp as a channel for residents to get in touch with general enquiries or questions for councillors.
Local citizens can get in touch with Keith Barrow, the authority’s leader, its cabinet member for adult services Lee Chapman, local councillors Dean Carroll, Robert Macey and David Turner or a general enquiries service for a four-week period from 10 November.
Barrow said he wanted the council to “only ever be as far away as a text message, a friend on Facebook or a fellow tweeter”.
He said the trial would allow Shropshire council to “see how we can use WhatsApp to interact with local people”.
He added: “We are very keen to communicate with our customers using channels that they have already adopted, rather than creating new ones and simply expecting them to use them.”
The authority said it wanted to build on the “huge success” of its Twitter account, which it started to use as one of its main communications channels in 2013. The account was set up in 2009 and has about 10,900 followers.
The West Midlands authority covers a rural and sparsely populated region with a population of about 306,000.
WhatsApp, a free mobile messaging app, has 417 million users worldwide and is available on iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Nokia and Windows Phone.
A number of local authorities have started to explore new channels to communicate with residents. South Oxfordshire District Council is already using Whatsapp to communicate with residents, while in May Blackburn with Darwen Council claimed to be the first authority in the country to use Snapchat.
The authority said it used the instant photo messaging app to remind local people to vote in the European and local elections.