Contact management

For the first time ever I got a performance report on councillor correspondence.

I had been emailed—I suspected with lots of others—by a business looking for a trading location. It was a fairly simple email to deal with, I replied, unable to immediately think of anywhere suitable but also forwarded their enquiry to the council’s economic development team (they have also followed up with the business).

Today the business emailed again with a thank-you for the response and the fascinating information that they had emailed 227 councillors and had 33 responses (a 14½% response rate). I have no idea who the 227 or the 33 were, and since the time between the two emails was fairly short I’m sure more would have subsequently replied.

But it set me wondering what people think are acceptable standards for councillors responses. Most public (and private) bodies will have targets for responding to enquiries and even as a councillor, rather than dealing with the relevant officers, I have to channel most enquiries through a central team who issue me with a reference number and a target date for a response. This type of behaviour must set an expectation of standards of service from public servants.

I certainly try to acknowledge emails within a few days but actually answering can take longer if I need to investigate something. The zeitgeist suggests councillors do pretty well at responding (considering they would be the only category on the list who don’t have dedicated staff to handle correspondence coming 2% behind MPs is good going). But I can’t help wondering if members of the public would agree 53% is good.

Battersea Park re-opens after Formula E

I took in Battersea Park on my morning run today. It is, again, open to mere mortals although a lot of evidence of Formula E remains. My route took me around the carriage drives, which were more or less fully open, although possibly more through oversight and perhaps not likely to remain that way all day, although there were no barriers, signs or security guards when I was there.

All around the park are collections of the fencing, concrete blocks and various bits and pieces of kit. Carriage Drive South was by far the worst, giving the impression that workers simply dropped everything where they stood yesterday ready to resume work this morning. The terracing and footbridge remain in place there.

Generally the concrete blocks have been removed from the course, although it looks like the barriers have still to be removed from the central road and the area around the junction with Carriage Drive East.

The only bit I couldn’t use was the new dual carriageway part of Carriage Drive West, where the amount of fencing and plant piled up meant I had to run on the tarmac where the boules area used to be.

So, you can get in and seem to be able to access most bits, but I suspect parts of the park will need to be closed off. A lot of freestanding fencing has been installed that I expect will be used to limit movement during work today. If nothing else there will be a lot vehicle movements there today, I spotted lots of forklifts and a couple of idling lorries.

Sadly, I must also report that I didn’t find the overnight tarmac job (which was impressive, when I report a pothole it takes three weeks for an acknowledgement!) on turn one made my run any faster at all.

Lavender Hill road works

If you are travelling on Lavender Hill for the next few evenings you might want to allow a few extra minutes for road works taking place.

The works are overnight, to minimise disruption, but affect a significant part of the hill: between Lavender Walk (basically the library) and Town Hall Road (next to Battersea Arts Centre). Four way traffic signals will be in place while resurfacing work takes place, currently scheduled from tonight until Friday morning.

Thirsty Camel licence application rejected

I’ve just found out that Thirsty Camel’s application for a new licence was rejected at last night’s licensing panel hearing.

The current licensee had lost his licence after being found selling counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes but a new licence application was made by an associate, presumably so they could continue trading in exactly the same way as before.

Despite my libertarian instincts, this is a good result: in trading illegal cigarettes (and previously selling to underage drinkers) the shop was competing unfairly with other retailers and putting customers at risk with products that were potentially harmful.