One of the suggestions when I asked for ideas for the blog last week (and I’m still looking for ideas or suggestions, feel free to add a comment or email email@example.com) was a regular ‘report’. Of course, reports can take many formats, but I thought I’d give it a go.
I’m going to trial this for a few weeks to see how it works. I will state from the outset that I’m a little sceptical about the value and have some caveats.
The main reason I’m sceptical is because it just cannot be exhaustive. Using the example of meetings, while I can list the meetings I’ve attending, some are confidential or will have confidential parts. Indeed, even where those meetings aren’t explicitly confidential I feel that, unless they are public, it would benefit no-one if they felt anything they said would end up on a blog.
Moving on to work in the ward, again, the confidentiality issue rears its head. Casework often involves highly personal matters that I simply cannot disclose. Even when dealing with broader issues residents expect a degree of discretion because of concerns about relationships with neighbours, for example. Earlier this year I privately started mapping my work in the ward but decided it was not suitable for publication because there were so many privacy issues involved.
More fundamentally, there’s the question of what merits inclusion. To give an example I started the week spending a lot of time working on the launch of our Neighbourhood Watch strategy for next week. I’ve also spent time trying to organise a meeting for residents of Eccles Road. While the launch and meeting would probably be reported when they happen, is the preparation of one more worthy of inclusion than the other? My instinct is to include Neighbourhood Watch because it affects the whole borough, but an Eccles Road resident might well think I’ve made the wrong call!
Above all, I wonder how useful it will be to a Shaftesbury or Wandsworth resident. I already use the blog to mention particular meetings and events and where casework has wider implications or raised by a few people independently I tend to write something about it here like I recently did in dealing with foxes. It might be the ‘report’ is little more than a summary of the past week on the blog, with details of a few meetings here and there.
But I am also a public servant and you could argue any report, however imperfect, has to be better than no report. So on that basis I’m going to provide them for a few weeks to see how they develop, how well they are received and then assess whether or not they are worthwhile.