Local Government


#44

Being a responsible citizen thought I would report an empty property in Wynell Road with an overflow running down the wall. Already looks as though the wall and surrounding area is soaked.
So phoned the council housing repairs number vague response then put on hold for 25minutes and 16seconds after which I hung up,

Tried to email instead having gone through several steps got a secure code and hey presto it went to an error page! I assume because I am not a tenant?

So gave Up!


#45

Unacceptable. Very frustrating. I would encourage you to make a formal complaint. You could cut and paste the text of your post here so no need to compose something new.


#46

Used the complaint feature virtually have to give your life history on the form but will see if they fix it.


#47

“we might be forgiven for wondering what the point of local government is these days”


#48

Posters here have expressed appreciation for the participation of councillors in this forum. My impression is that the participation is strictly limited to non-contentious and trivial matters e.g. wifi-enabled park benches. Are any of them picking up on the complaints above? How about some interest from Councillors in the destruction of woodland - which is causing tremendous sorrow and concern? I am referring to One Tree Hill and local cemeteries.


#49

@MajaHilton has picked up multiple complaints made here on the forum and helped resolve them.

She has done this despite it being entirely optional to her duties as a councillor. There is no ruling from County Hall that local councillors must participate in SE23.life or other local forum websites. So personally I am delighted she takes the time.

In the next local elections, if I could vote for individuals, I would vote wholeheartedly for Maja (despite our polar differences, politically). She writes lengthy and detailed posts explaining council positions, and she has helped people directly with concerns expressed here on the forum. And I suspect she has also represented our opinions on the bigger issues too (but she is one of 50+ councillors in Lewisham, so we cannot expect her to resolve every issue we bring up).

@DevonishForester, if you want to make a difference, I would really appreciate you and others reaching out to other Forest Hill, Perry Vale and Crofton Park Ward councillors to encourage them to join the forum and take the positive steps that Maja has. If enough of them join and hear from local people, perhaps then they will have the combined influence to tackle the bigger issues.

On a related point - where are the prospective Conservative councillors? Surely if they wanted to be elected they would spend some time on local forums too. Let’s reach out to them too. They’ve got something to gain by involving themselves here.

I share your frustrations with the destruction of One Tree Hill’s historic woodland. I think joining @LewisSchaffer’s group would be the best way to pressure Southwark council to take action. If Southwark residents see just how dreadful their council is, perhaps they will vote differently in the next local elections.


2018 Forest Hill Ward Councillor Candidates - Conservative
#50

I’ve just noticed this thread and want to add my thoughts. The problem with local government and often their poor services is global, there is hardly any country in the world that does not have problems with government and local government and their management and administration. But only people of very few countries have real opportunities to change things for the better. The UK is one of those few where people CAN make difference. The answer to your questions is people do not speak up, do not complain, do not come together to make good changes, to bring their problems to local government to rectify. If we keep quiet, local government will think that everything is ok and use the people’s silence for their benifits.

I learned from this forum that the current Lewisham Mayor has been keeping his post from 2001. HOW??? I use public transport a lot and have been living in Lewisham from 2001. I see a lot of Catford and Lewisham centre. There are hardly any changes in the area and it got worse, it is dirtier, filthier, uglier because buildings get older with the time. On the top of that I got to know from this forum that Lewisham government is in debts, 30% or smth from the budget! How mr Bullock has been keeping his post from 2001 till now!!! HOW?!! Has anyone questioned his ability to manage??? To me, he is a complete failure.

Local governors have to have good management skills, good administration skills, good financial management skills, I do not see them in our local government. They are complete and utter jokes. There have to be dramatic changes with the next elections.

I am planning to start a thread on this forum (when i get more free time) which probably will be called Leaseholders’ Saga. It will show, partly, how poor The Council management is and how the moneis are dripping from the budget. Obviousely it will be a tiny projection of the situation as it will be a reflection of my experience and experience leaseholders in our block. I find it quite shocking what is going on in financial world of the local government.


#51

I picked up some quotes from the thread. The easiest one to answer is the last one. When you vote for your councillors you vote for the individual people. As our wards have 3 councillors you can pick three names from the list. When counting the votes, it is easier if all three votes are for the same party. Split votes are a bit of nightmare for the counters and candidates who observe the count. In Lewisham only 3 labour candidates will be on each list, eg my name was only in Forest Hill ward.
I see sharing my knowledge as part of my role. I may be lazy and typing on my iPad is an easy way to do this. There are some excellent Councillors who I don’t think have ever put a post on the internet. It doesn’t mean that they are not hard working or approachable. We all have emails, and phone numbers published. You can come to our surgeries or write us a letter. You can come to Assemblies and you can observe Council meetings. We talk to residents and generally try to help.

@DevonishForester there are monthly KPI reports looking at all the services. These are reviewed by management and by Councillors. There are areas that we as Councillors worry about, but it is likely that our priorities may be somewhat different. After all different Labour councillors will have individual priorities, and these can change over time due to changing environment and circumstances.
Problem with the communication and knowledge of who does what is consequence (in my opinion) of constant organisational changes, where savings need to be achieved. We all want most for our money, but the money available has gone 63% down in the last 10 years. Officers that used to look after one area, if they were not let go, would have taken slightly different role. Number of staff have gone down from over 4000 to less than 2500 (excluding school staff). So it is easy to criticise.

@kat.standlake.point I am trying to remember what the loans you referee to in your post were for. One thing is for sure, they were not used for day to day spending as that would have been illegal. There are strict rules in how the budgets can be set and what can be done if they are not achieved. There are lots of pots that one is not allowed to mix(something I never experienced in the private sector to this degree). I also don’t know who do you refer when you say Local governors. Do you mean councillors? It would be good to know what dramatic changes are you expecting from the next Council elections.

Sir Steve Bullock has been elected by Lewisham voters in the Council elections. He is not intending to stand as the Mayor again. The Labour Party has selected Damien Egan as our Mayoral Candidate for May 2018.

I assume when you say Council Management you refer to one of the Housing Associations.(HA) All housing stock has been transferred for better or worse to these organisations. HAs will deal with renovations, maintenance ect.Council will manage the housing list and eligibility criteria and refuse. Council also may have a representative on its Board, but these are separate organisations. Their budgets are not for Councillors or the Mayor to control. They operate with its remit. We can ask for things to be reviewed and maybe suggest the best practice. We can’t instruct them on the specific operational matter. I am sure members who sit on the Housing Committee (Cllr Carl Handley is the chair) would like to hear your saga, but their influence would not be a direct one on HA issues. Hope this helps a bit.


#52

Morning Maja!

Thank you for your time to answer. I agree with Chris, definitely will vote for you if your name is on the list for one simple reason - you talk to people, you listen to them, you are trying to help. It is priceless. But I believe I am in the different ward and wont have a chance to do so.

When I was referring to Lewisham debt, I ment this topic:

What those loans were taken for? Could Lewisham avoid taking loans? Could central government help? If It could not, why not? The government bailed out Halifax bank, why not to help local government in the similar way?

Local governors I refer to all people in the local government who make decisions in different areas.

Thank you for confirming that.

Housing stock transfer: for managing it only, right? My lease shows that Lewisham Council is my landlord and not Lewisham Homes (LH) who is a managing agent of our Estate. My understanding is if LH is a managing agent for Lewisham Council then Lewisham Council must manage its managing agent - its performance, finance management, etc.? I believe Lewisham Council pays LH £18.5 million, I am guessing per year, and extended its contract for 10 years? This £18 million, are they for services only or they incorporate spending for maintenance of housing stocks as well? I am a leaseholder and see, through my portion of contributions, the full scale of spending by LH on our estate.

I am shocked to be honest and do not find it acceptable not only because I pay a portion from my pocket (as leaseholder), but also because another portion (the council) - i believe there are currently 25% leaseholders and 75% council tenants on our estate - is contributed by council funds…it is not only leaseholders who are ripped off but the Council too!

For example: LH charge £40 per hour for caretaking with just only 10 hrs per block per week which we realisticly get only 5 hrs per block per week if we are lucky, for the past 4-5 years we have been living in pigstyies. We have been battling from April this year to get our 10hrs per week caretaking and already told LH that we would go to Tribunal if they dont get it sorted.

Latest one, just over £900 to patch/repair/fix bird netting

About £900,000.00 pounds spent to replace 6 lifts in 3 blocks with 6 workers + 1 supervisor on site with works lasting one year. I have been talking to private lift companies and they told me that realisticly the job could be done for half of the time and for about £500,000.00. I did not have guts to question LH because I was new to leaseholder business at that time.

The block entrance door replaced for the price, i think is about £24k, i need to check that, with only one year warranty, but one of the leaseholders in our block wrote to LH offering the entry system for half of that price with more functions, with video, etc (we dont have video function now).

£54 charge to remove a dead bird/birds by the caretaker for whose service we pay £40 per hour.

£15 for the electronic form of the block insurance policy…how???

There are some more…

I personally see a lot of money (my money and council’s money) going down the drain or where are they going ??? LH is not-for-profit organisation…

I will definitely take this opportunity to bring the leaseholders saga to the attention of Housing Committee amd Mr Handley). I will put my thoughts in a more coherent form and will forward them to yourself so it can be kindly passed over to Mr Handley. We will be holding a Standlake Point leaseholders meeting today and I will ask them if they have smth to add to what I have said above.

Thank you Maja very much for your time and patience to read my posts. :bouquet:


#53

Here come my dreams😇
I would love the newly elected governors and their staff to:

  1. tackle benifit frawd, i want to see more people working, working more hrs to pay their bills themseves. I want real people in need get help and stop wellfare system to be abused. I want “benifit in generation” families tackled and stopped. I know, I see them on the streets, there are people who make lots of children so they can have benifit and house. You cannot use children to get benifits, it is immoral.
  2. i want cleaner lewisham, I want to see more street cleaners, I want to see bridges walls washed and kept clean and any parts if land, carparks, sites kept clean and tudy. I want old pedestrian parts replaced, i want the Council to make all property owners to keep external part of the properties regularly refreshed, repaired and looking nice, well maintained and clean. A lot of shopfronts look awful and dirty now.
  3. I want rubbish collected during Off Pick hrs and not when the traffic is awful and driving you mad and when you are at the boiling point, the rubbish collecting track blocks the road so you cannot pass ending up late for work.
  4. I want better finance control and spending management, I want value for money deals and contracts. Raising taxes and councul tax to patch holes is not an option. It is not news and the problem is global that businesses use public budgets to milk lots of moneys through different schemes, I want government to be aware, prevent and tackle these kind of business fraud.
  5. I want public servants to be more productive, more effective in their day-to-day work, I want more technologically advanced facilities, I want local government and all its staff to be the top example of customer service excellence.
  6. I want housing problems tackled with long term outcome in mind. Building 500 homes create 1000 homes demand in the future which in turn create 2000 homes demand in the later future - how that would be tackled? Housing problem should be resolved involving all regions of England. It is a nationwide solution.
  7. I want more trees, i dont want to see boxes with bushes or trees in pots, I want to see real trees planted. I want green areas protected and I dont want to see Lewisham becoming a concrete prison in 20 years time.
  8. I want more benches on the streets and roads
  9. i want to have one lewisham citizen communication portal where all of us can report problems, see live complaints, reported problems and their resolutions and participate/input/petition, etc there rather us looking for councillors to help.
  10. I want to see easy flowing and on time coming public transport and less cars on the road.
  11. i want destructive business like gambling, magic/ fortune teller to be prohibited.
  12. i want children and parents and people in general to be more educated on healthy living and life style ( and not eating that poxy McDonald’s and chicken’n’chips)
  13. i want ordinary people life to be easier and with less stress and bills, I don’t want to see homeless people, poor people, sick people who cannot find help.

#54

Which is a great use for these local Forums. But Lewisham finances are not a secret including their debt. The information is published and available on their website. For the last few years much of this information is collated an published for all authorities by DCLG with the added benefit you can compare your council’s finances to all others in England (and maybe Wales I can’t recall).

It was either yours or someone else’s FOI request which led me to discover this amazing website What Do They Know which tracks and publishes all FOI requests and their answers. I reviewed a bunch for Lewisham and many were turned down simply because the information requested was already in the public domain. In my opinion FOIs shouldn’t be used as some library service, but to uncover information which is kept from the public either by purpose or often innocently.

My point is much of this information has always been available. And in recent years easier to understand and find. I just really wish people would become more engaged with finding and using this information to judge the performance of their own local government rather than rely of Forums of local news media.


#55

Is that the case? I had though Lewisham Homes was set up by the Council to manage residential property still in its ownership. In that regard it is an ALMO rather than a housing association. In which case I would think the Council can have much more authority over Lewisham Homes than it would another HA like LQ. The board is made up of councillors as well as residents. So on that latter point @kat.standlake.point sounds like you should check when a position may become open!

ETA - In this case it is an important distinction as Housing Associations are not subject to FOI requests whereas Lewisham Homes as an arms length management organisation for Lewisham Council is.


#56

I even did not know that residents can be board members and who are those residents that are currently board members in Lewisham Homes?


#57

https://www.lewishamhomes.org.uk/about/board


#58

Oh-la-la… I guess I have a choice :nerd_face:.


#59

i am sure @ChrisBeach can provide us with statistics that more people are in work. I would want for welfare system to be a bit more kind to people as huge demand of Food Banks is due to delays /problems within benefit system. I would like to live in times with more job security and progression within companies. Certainly no unpaid internships.

I assume you have reported all the cases of benefit fraud you have seen on the streets to:
National Benefit Fraud Hotline ( NBFH ) Telephone: 0800 854 440. Textphone: 0800 328 0512. …

With regards to the rest your best option may be to run for the Mayors office next May.


#60

Thanks, I stand corrected. Although it is still minority on the Board.


#61

Happy to oblige.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/over-3-million-more-people-in-work-since-2010


#62

Morning Maja

No Maja, I believe it is for the government departments to investigate. That what those departments and employees are paid for and it is their jobs, not mine and that is where they have to improve.

I do another, my, job from which I pay taxes for the government and local government to be paid to do their jobs.

And again, Maja, no, I would like the new elected governors to work towards those goals that is why I am electing them for and that what I want to pay my taxes for.


#63

On this we disagree. We live in a civil society which relies on its citizens to be an active part of the process at all times, not just once every four years. Would you not report a burglary if you saw one in the process? How about ill-treatment of an animal?

Benefit fraud is a crime too.