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Friday, 23 May 2008

I can't get no satisfaction

Rather than wait for his local council to start listening to 'customers', blogger Jon Bounds used the new website to set up a channel for 'customer feedback' about a Council.

So he did one for his - Birmingham City Council, the biggest in the country - and it's already got some damned reasonable questions on it like:

The trouble with both this and also with fixmystreet (what was neighbourhoodfixit) is the connections between ignoring such sites and their complaints/ideas and the consequences — especially the political consequences. And councils are ignoring them, I added something recently to fixmystreet and noticed that there were many others in my local area which hadn't been addressed one year on. And by 'not addressed' I mean ignored, because the email generated went somewhere.

All those people come away with a negative impression of the council as their consequence, and perhaps most importantly the people in charge of the council.

I don't think councillors, almost all of them anyway, have yet seen what's happening on such websites and thought - ahah! if I don't address these community issues I might lose my seat. Whereas if these issues made it into the local paper even in one letter to the editor, they would.

There's a tipping point of recognition which none of the political parties and only a few councillors have made.

It will happen but there's a political recognition here as much as anything else which they need to make and perhaps those advocating this type of engagement need to bang on about.

HT: Dave Briggs


  1. Thanks Paul. I agree with your point, my idea here was to get something going a little before attempting to make the council aware.

    In Birmingham at least, things are slowly changing. My local councilor runs a Yahoo group, blogs and uses YouTube (the latter getting him in trouble and the papers a fair bit).

    If we use good tools, like GetSatisfaction, it may stop councils producing their own bespoke (and probably terrible) online versions. In a way it can now be up to us how to interact with our elected representatives, they're following us to a certain extent.

  2. Good luck! Agree with what you're doing and that constituents talking to councillors to head off wasting of more money on engagement tools is a very good idea.