Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Councillor Scorecard

The engagement of residents in local politics is something that only often reaches a critical mass on single-issues.

What will it take to engage people day-to-day?

This question sits uncomfortably alongside that of the effectiveness and efficiency of local councillors. As Swindon Centric has talked about, too often local councillors consist of a wide-range of abilities, motivations and interpersonal skills. A way to get councillors who only seem to surface from their sleep at election time is to make them take ownership of their ward.

Why not create a scorecard for each ward, using some simple housekeeping targets? What percentage of streetlights don't work? The level of cleanliness, with scores for graffiti, litter, dumped rubbish, the quality of street furniture and more. Councillors would not be set targets, but monthly totals could be kept and be easily accessible via the Swindon Borough Council website. This would make councillors be responsible (truly take ownership) for 'their patch', would get them out on the streets of the voters who they represent and would give them first hand 'shop-front' experience of reporting defective services and see that report through to the problem being resolved.

This would not be a replacement for residents reporting problems themselves, but many people do not seem to even know they can report a raft of issues for quick fixes, especially the Council's Streetsmart service simply and quickly by phone and email.

Swindon Centric Says ; This would truly give residents the ability to see how committed councillors are to their wards.

UPDATED : I'd like to see a set of figures each month covering those 'basic standards' (percentage of working street lights, graffiti tags logged and cleaned, rubbish dumping logged and cleared, etc). The onus would be put on councillors that they should take an active role in reporting these and reducing them in their wards, walking a 'beat' and noting down what needs doing and reporting it to Streetsmart for rectifying.

The community clean-up days we see most wards have occurring once a year gets councillors a nice shot of publicity, but this type of 'roll up your sleeves' should be a daily, second-nature attitude. Keeping a tally on the 'housekeeping' in each ward would give an indication as to how active your councillor is.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Whalebridge Breaks the Surface

The entire top surface of the Whalebridge junction has been removed months after it was laid following the removal of the junction roundabout.


We've seen the traffic queues, the diverting of traffic round the court, the non-finishing off of grass verges, the inconsistent pedestrian crossing standards with lack of buttons and the piss-poor light phasing. Yet nothing has been done about this.

But now we see the tarmac surface and all road markings gone, why? Was it poorly laid?

Swindon Centric Says ; Get someone from Serco to re-phase the lights, scatter some grass seed in the muddy verges, put pelican crossings in all of the crossings points, not just some and until the regrading of Fleming Way starts, allow all traffic to turn west into Fleming Way from Whalebridge.

The entire population of 209,000 people will be entirely thankful.

Top Ten Things Overheard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 245

Click here for the original at this brilliant idea, here's our own version for Swindon's buses from last week.

10. I suspect you're right, but will pretend you're wrong.

9. That sounds like a recipe for disaster.

8. Just 'cos you've got a smartcard, don't act like it's a gold-plated iPad.

7. Yeah but she's a slapper, the whole street knows it, they've all had her.

6. Have you seen Burn Notice? I stream them online, totally illegal but it's quicker than waiting for them.

5. I've done four of these already, want to swap?

4. I smacked her in the mouth, I didn't use my fists, I used my sarcasm.

3. Try seeing what the cuts will do to their I.T. department, less screens and attitude from them for a start.

2. Stare right down there and you can see all the way to the top of the hill.

And the number one overheard phrase on Swindon's buses from last week is...

1. They've got the heating on, are they trying to kill me or grow tomatoes?

Overheard something we've missed? Then email or leave a comment and your phrase could make it onto next weeks list!