Guest column: A social media strategy for Lewisham Council

Chris Maines, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Blackheath on his Mayoral ambitions and his plan to use social media to cut the cost of services in Lewisham.

Lewisham's a great place and with your help I hope to make it better. Next year I hope to become Mayor of Lewisham, and going round talking to people I face the same complaints time and again. One of the recurrent issues raised by residents is how the council feels and acts like a faceless bureaucracy.

I'm determined to fix this. But we'll face is the squeeze on resources that will make grand plans difficult. What we'll need is practical solutions that, bit by bit, make Lewisham better for everyone. Technology has the potential to help councillors to listen to people more effectively and to stay in touch with the community.

Love Lewisham isn't perfect - but it's a good example of how we can simply make Lewisham better. But I've been more inspired by the simple technologies that are already changing our community for the better:

  • Simple problem reporting websites like FixMyStreet and
  • Local community blogs and forums like Brockley Central, and the Telegraph Hill discussion forums
  • PledgeBank - which helps people coordinate getting organised in their communities
  • And of course the hundreds of Facebook groups and websites that form around local societies

This is where you come in. Lewisham has a fantastic array of people with the technology skills to make this happen, and, crucially, to make sure that council money is not wasted the way that it has been in the past.I'd like your ideas for how Lewisham council can become better at listening and better at acting, using the amazing tools we have online. For instance:

  • What existing tools could we use to make the council more responsive?
  • For instance should we force all senior councillors and civil servants to have a blog on which they answer the public's questions regularly?
  • How can we save money on technology? For instance should we only use free or very cheap platforms like Wordpress or Blogger?
  • What is the council doing well already that we should seek to extend? For instance should we extend Love Lewisham to our efforts in cutting crime?

If, as we hope, the Liberal Democrats take control of Lewisham then we could be implementing these plans as early as May - so I urge you to give us your ideas so that we can turn them into action.