Lewisham Council, je t'aime

The Architect: I created the Matrix. And several popular video games, including Q-Bert. And Dig-Dug. I didn't create Frogger, but I did I come up with the name for it. Can you believe they wanted to call it 'Highway Crossing Frog'?
Dude: That is so lame!
The Architect: I know, it's the lamest thing I've ever heard. 'Highway Crossing Frog'!

Reader Steve reckons it's time to celebrate our Council's tech-savviness and all the other ways in which Mayor Bullock's dictatorship is benign.

BBC News ran a feature applauding the Council's Love Lewisham phone app this morning, prompting Steve to write to us suggesting a discussion of what Lewisham Council does well. Seeing as they used their website to extol the virtues of Brockley, we think it's a nice idea to use this website for Brockley residents to reciprocate:

I was watching BBC breakfast this morning and they had a feature on graffiti and fly-tipping. The council have developed an app where people can take photos of graffiti/fly-tipping, email them to the council and they'll respond.

In 2002, it took two and a half days to clean up reported graffiti, now it takes on average half a day. And graffiti is down by 73 per cent.

I don't work for the council nor do I have any vested interest in them. I'm not particularly enamoured with them either but credit where credit's due.

You could focus on council achievements. And request that people only post good things and refrain from snidey comments. Leave that for the other forums, some of which are valid.

So Lewisham does clean-up operations well. We'd also offer that the press office is very helpful and the Ward Assemblies are well done. We hear mixed reviews about how helpful it is towards people who want to organise local community events, but on balance, it seems to have a pretty good record.

What else?


Anonymous said...

Come on MB give us another lecture.

Anonymous said...

but it is terrible at PFIs...

Lou Baker said...

The Love Lewisham ap is really a very good idea.

The first time I used it, last year, the graffiti was gone in hours.

From what I recall, at the time, it only allowed you to report fly tipping and graffiti. It's good to see the council is learning from its best practice and using the ap for other purposes.

That said, they could do with some help with the interface - which could be better designed.

Overall, though, the ap demonstrates the point I make again and again on here - usually to be shouted down by the big government brigade.

The key to good public services and good government is not how much money you have but how you spend the money you have. After the initial investment the Love Lewisham ap makes services better, easier to use AND cheaper to run. What's not to like?

Bravo Lewisham for getting this one right.

Anonymous said...

Haven't they got people on community service cleaning up graffiti.

Anonymous said...

Excellent green spaces (council have invested in them and selected excellent contractor); hilly fields, telegraph hill park, manor house gardens to name a few...

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 21:25: Most of the investment for Telegraph Hill Park and Manor House Gardens came from the Lottery Heritage Fund and was used to restore the parks (partly back) to the state they were before the Council let them go to wrack and ruin.

Since the restoration of those parks, they have started deteriorating again.

Fordham Park might have been a better example.

Sue said...

1. Procurement policy: buying electricity from renewable sources, recycled plastic wheelie bins etc. Lewisham was ahead of the curve with this and has been procuring its electricity from renewable sources for a number of years. Always room for improvement on this of course!
2. Supporting local groups with community gardens, planting days etc - largely due to one or two very committed officers in Greenscene.
3. street markets
4. free swimming for unders 16s
5. It was also pretty responsive compared to Greenwich at getting cycle racks installed outside local shops etc, but since the cycling implementation officer post has been abolished, I fear all things to do with cycling,such as drawing in funding from TfL for specific projects, are likely to take a backseat.

@Lou Baker Lewisham didn't even have to fork out much initially for the Love Lewisham app' - the developer covered that cost and licenses the software to other councils to cover costs (I think I've got that right). Agree it works v well. Would like to have more faith that highways issues reported via LoveLewisham were dealt with promptly too, not just graffiti and fly-tipping.

Sue said...

One more I just thought of:
Involving young people in decision-making about how money for youth activities is allocated, via Young advisors panel. It does adventure playgrounds pretty well too and was good at getting national Playbuilder funding to improve lots of playgrounds and build new ones across the borough (before the Tories scrapped that).

Anonymous said...

On graffiti, ive seen youngsters in high viz orange jackets cleaning it up,they dont work for the Council so lets not big them up too much.

Crofty said...

And it would be nice if you didn't have to have a smartphone to get such prompt service. Their website is a joke - and actually got worse after its overhaul. For things like paying council tax I still find it way simpler to do over the phone, which is annoying and expensive.

Tamsin said...

And the always crowded cash hall - where you could pay anything from Council Tax, to rent, to parking fines, to licence fees, etc. is being closed. Not so good for those who don't like paying over the phone to an automated voice, don't do on-line banking and would actually like a paper receipt.

Manor House and Telegraph Hill Parks could not, however, have been restored without massive effort and input from the Council Parks department. Agreed the capital funding came from the Heritage Lottery fund but getting that money was made possible by the Council being the lead partner in the application and an awful lot of senior officer time.

Telegraph Hill Park, by the way, won the Metropolitan Parks and Gardens association award for the year it happened - the ceremonial spade is on display in the Catford Town Hall.

Anonymous said...

@Tamsin - The parks may have had input from the Council's Parks Department, but it was the Council that let them deteriorate in the first place. See some of those pictures of what the parks looked like in Victorian/Edwardian times ... the standard is still far worse today. Manor House Gardens used to have some lovely flower beds.

Anonymous said...

@ Tamsin - you can pay all that at a Council pay point or at any post office I think. You don't need to speak to an autobot

Deptford dame said...

You don't need a smartphone to access Love Lewisham altho you do need a computer. On the whole i think it's an excellent service and gets a very prompt response.

Steve said...

@ Crofty.

I suggested the post and I don;t have an iPhone nor smartphone but it's still a great idea. It's just another way of reaching people. Phone, email or letter are all perfectly valid, And indeed I have emailed and phoned about graffiti in previous years and it's been dealt with very promptly, probably more to do with the c word and f word but done nonetheless.

So they're not all bad, the council that is.

Steve said...

sorry, my other half read my last post and said it read as if I complained to the council using the f and c word. I didn't. The f and c word was used in what you could class as a "colourful language" or the loca dialect daubed on across shop fronts along new cross road.

Anonymous said...

I know libraries have been controversial of late, but I really like Lewisham Library. The staff are nice and the opening hours are good.

Crofton Cath said...

Having moved here from Lambeth I thought there was a lot less street litter.

D said...

Do the council have any powers to tackle persistent fly-tipping? There's a spot next to the river by Catford Bridge that is used as a constant dumping ground. The council seem to be quick to tidy it up, and someone has also added concrete blocks there recently, presumably to stop people from backing vans in, but there's still a new load of rubbish there almost every morning.

Anonymous said...

I recently attended a full-day bicycle maintenance course I saw advertised in Lewisham Life magazine. I paid £10 and the council the other £60. I really couldn't believe in the current climate that they were still able to fund projects like this. Very impressive!

Tamsin said...

Agree with both Anonymii.

The Council had totally let the parks deteriorate before the restorations and that they (and/or Glendale) are in danger of letting matters seriously slip again - just credit where credit is due and the restorations would not have happened without full support and effort and an element of funding from the Council.

And also realise that payment services are available from Council pay points (had to pay a TEN fee that way last time) but it took three goes to find one that functioned and the receipt was a bit of till print-out. A less easy option for the elderly and infirm than the one-stop Council pay hall. What delays are there in the money being transferred to the Council, what commission is paid to those operating the system and what safeguards are in place to ensure that the records are accurately kept - so people aren't charged twice or let off without paying?

biff bifferson said...

theyve done some cracking stuff with the little parks. margaret mcmillan, that cornmill one by matalan, also the big one by ladywell station. conversely the roads round our way are a disgrace.

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