Sunday, 7 March 2010

Redbridge Goldilocks

After the experience of the former Redbridge-i forum, as was, where the local area and ward based sub-forums had little or no use, even when all registered members could contribute our council in it's wisdom decided to recreate them in localised forums where only those people whose postcode is registered within that area could contribute. Result - nothing much happening. In fact where I live nothing at all, zilch, zero, diddly squat, silence. I've had to change my registered postcode to find someone to talk to.

Now we get to Redbridge Life, the council's monthly news sheet [checks spelling]. This gets put through every letterbox in the borough, except, presumably, those with a "no free newspapers" notice. The council take great pride in this publication. Blown up versions of the front page of each edition are ostentatiously framed and displayed in the committee rooms of the Town Hall where visiting consultants and VIPs can view them in awe. But do the residents actually want it or read it? Some obviously do, but probably about the same proportion as would answer a public consultation - about 1%.

So, to address this the Labour group, in the form of Bob Littlewood, are proposing that it should be more localised. For this read more expensive. So, people who live in the south of the borough are not interested in what's happening over at Fairlop Waters? People in the west of the borough are not interested in events at Hainault Forest Country Park? Only those people who live in South Woodford are interested in parking arrangements or the library facilities. Nobody from outside South Woodford uses the shops there or the tube station, do they?

So, would you be more or less likely to read it if it were "localised"?

Goldilocks eventually found something that was "just right", but this serendipitous eventuality seems to be eluding both our Councillors and officers.



  1. During this last weekend "post-moderation" has been particularly active on the "My Neighbourhood" section of Redbridge-i. Posts have disappeared pretty quickly after they first appear, demonstrating that "they" are keeping a close watch on "us".

    In an email to me this afternoon Mr Eddie Gibb, Head of the council's Corporate Communications & Marketing, says as follows:

    "...... let me correct the misapprehension that we are using CVS volunteers as moderators - that's not true. We are working with CVS to encourage voluntary groups to create content for the My Neighbourhood sections of Redbridge-i. The council webteam have been post-moderating the My Neighbourhood functions of Redbridge-i after hours."

    So what does this amount to? First, the statement that they are "working with CVS" is a tacit admission that Redbridge-i was effectively killed off last autumn when the council changed its format. Second, whilst they are apparently "unable" to moderate the forum section for posts made some time between about midday on Friday and late Monday morning/early afternoon the moderators are able to keep a keen watch on the My Neighbourhood section and delete what they do not like.

    If that is not the actions of groups similar to the Stasi then I do not know what is. That they do it with our hard-earned money is nothing short of a public scandal.

  2. Firstly, Making a localised version of the Redbridge life? What does localised mean? Yes, I read the on line news article. Localised can mean lots of different things to different people.

    How about localised within a 1km radius of all postcodes? Or wards, areas, Neighbourhood watch areas? How about cultural or community or ethnically localised versions? How about different languages spoken in Redbridge? Why stop there? How about localised for age or gender, disability?

    I've got a really good idea - why not have just one version where there's something for everyone? Afterall, Redbridge is for all of us? Ever heard of the "motor carriage"? or "bus"? They're a new mode of transport which enables people to travel from one area of the borough to another in less than a day! Surely people want to know what's happening throughout Redbridge, not just in their own back yard?

    Secondly, moderating out of hours? Not exactly a good use of time is it? Bring in self-moderation!

    While I'm at it:

    Mark: What do we want?
    crowd: e-petitions
    Mark: when do we want it?
    Crowd: now!

  3. Mark I will add to that

    Webcasting of Council Meetings (that means Officers as well as Councillors!!!!!

    Borough Wide Open Forums

  4. Webcasting is a good idea in principle. The risk is that in Deadbridge they would make as big a hash of it as they have done with their website and Redbridge-i Version 2. And who knows - we might even get censored webcasting!

  5. I know this link is OT but it contains something that Morris, in particular, might appreciate ...
    ... a spoof on YouTube closedown ...

    ... watch it full screen and check out the Google search text (and some of the responses, if you have time ...!)