Croydon news at 5 July: Retired Unite rejects referendum for directly elected Mayor and building on neighbourhood green spaces, and comments on Council’s new Digital Strategy

Sunday 7 July. 6pm.  Vigil for victims of violence at Thornton Heath Pond

https://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/17752633.croydon-community-group-hold-vigil-victims-violence

Tuesday 9 July. 6.30pm.  Putting Pressure on the Transport Providers  in Croydon

Councillors have the chance to put pressure on the rail industry in Croydon to improve their services at the Scrutiny Streets, Environment & Homes Sub-committee on Town Hall)

Govia Thameslink Railway: update on performance indicators, response to recommendations from the meeting on 26 June 2018, latest timetable and Passenger Benefit Fund

Transport for London: update on performance including timetable and accessibility

Network Rail: Brighton Mainline Upgrade, Croydon area remodelling scheme, stakeholder Engagement

MASDE IN cROYDON 27 jULY

Croydon Retired UNITE rejects referendum for directly elected Croydon Mayor

 At its meeting on Friday 5 July the Croydon Retired Members branch of the trade union UNITE agreed to reject the campaign by the Conservative MP for Croydon South for a referendum for Croydon to have a directly elected Mayor. It  supports the policy of the Croydon Trades Union Council and the Croydon Assembly for a reform of the Croydon governance system by the replacement of the executive leader and Cabinet model and return to a more democratic and accountable system of the previous governance system based on annual election of the Leader and the Cabinet members and decision making Committees made up of Councillors.

For information:

Wandsworth Labour Councillor Tony Belton’s argument against directly elected mayors can be read at:

https://historyandsocialaction.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-case-against-elected-mayors.html

Croydon Retired UNITE rejects building on Neighbourhood Green Spaces

In line with its opposition to the Brick by Brick scheme to be built on the green space next to Ruskin House, at its meeting on Friday 5 July the Croydon Retired Members branch of the Trade Union UNITE agreed to continue to support the need to protect neighbourhood green spaces from building development. It is calling on Croydon Council to withdraw from the recent list of potential housing sites, submitted to the Mayor of London and reportedly handed to Brick by Brick, any green space such as that of the corner of Covington and Crescent Ways in Norbury Park Ward.

Cabinet to adopt up-dated Digital Strategy

On Monday 8 July Croydon’s Cabinet will consider adopting an up-dated digital strategy – see details in posting https://seancreighton1947.wordpress.com/2019/06/30/croydon-events-news-at-30-june

I have emailed all Councillors with the following comments:

‘A continual complaint by residents in Norbury relates to the complexity and problems using the various mechanisms of the Council’s digital access, and concern about the fact that many people do not have digital access or even if they do are not digitally literate and find the systems very confusing and off-putting.

The recognition of the need for improvements suggested by the Scrutiny Committee and embedded in the Digital Strategy report are welcome.

The need for a fundamental review of the whole of the Council’s digital system to make sure that it is understandable, easy to use and more accessible for those who are not digitally literate is welcome, but it needs to be considered as top priority, and it would be helped if there were focus groups of users to find out what the exact nature of their problems are so these can be speedily addressed.

The presentation of the Council website is unhelpful, in that there it does not show topic and links in reverse chronological order which means a lot of time has to be spent trawling you a bundled up mess to see if particular pages are accessible. This should be seen as a top priority to gain public confidence.

There are also problems with data input. For example Development Management often fails to include the date of the close of consultation in the important dates section of each application. Further the page listing of applications for a particular street records that the decision has bent taken. This means every application has to be checked to see what the decision is. It would help if the decagon was recorded on the listing page  e.g. approved, refused. As these matters relate to data input all it should require is instructions from manager to staff that input practice should change with an effective start date e.g. of  two weeks after the Cabinet meeting.

The low level of take-up of digital communication mentioned in the report suggests that not as much progress has been made since the Cabinet review in June 2016, to which I submitted the attached comments. Digital exclusion was an important element of the debate at the time as discussed by Opposition Councillor Yvette Hopley: https://seancreighton1947.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/council-debates-digital-divide

Some recent comments by residents:

‘Always interesting when a big structures reviewing their digital strategy. …. the use of OKR itself is nice and trendy. However I have set it up in a few companies …., and it takes between 6 months to a year for the people using it (stakeholder) to know exactly how to use it, depending on the training they get. They should use a consultant to help them in this one.’

‘The systems themselves on my end seems to work as attended. The dont mess with croydon app sometimes gives me some grief – so maybe a review would be in order there.’

‘(H)aving seen older and more vulnerable people get scammed online – one very important bit for the council should be to have online knowledge courses.’

‘The library catalogue is accessible but has oddities eg they list books they don’t have – sometimes the book has been lost but sometimes there are many other odd reasons. A big red X is put by those books but it tends to raise people’s hopes the book is somehow there! Also many people don’t use the catalogue to search for books, they go into the library and look on the shelves,which are relatively bare. How can the library service find a way to supplement its digital offer to really encourage people to use it as a useful way to search for books to read? etc (Not sure there is sign-posting throughout library, that might be an idea). Also I don’t know if the catalogue can be searched more smartly, perhaps it can, eg “crime novels NEW” or ‘2019″ There may be other similar examples where just putting things on line actually means there is no increase in access even for people with the skill to use a computer.’

‘Elderly residents are unable to pay by cheque or speak to an operator.  If you want a green waste service you have to go on line.  The telephone often cuts out for the services residents call up about after giving a message to go on line.’

Councillor Stuart Collins says ‘that they get more reported fly tips. I assume he means via the reporting app as opposed to phone calls, but bearing in mind that it is almost impossible to contact the Council by phone then that is hardly surprising. Were they to provide proper means of receiving reports from all residents, not just those with access to computers, then comparison results might be substantially different.’’

 

About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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