Rather than wait for his local council to start listening to 'customers', blogger Jon Bounds used the new getsatisfaction.com website to set up a channel for 'customer feedback' about a Council.
So he did one for his - Birmingham City Council, the biggest in the country - and it's already got some damned reasonable questions on it like:
- Helpin people to remember which week is recycling colection (sic)
- Pedestrian crossings on Poplar Rd roundabout, Kings Heath
The trouble with both this and also with fixmystreet (what was neighbourhoodfixit) is the connections between ignoring such sites and their complaints/ideas and the consequences — especially the political consequences. And councils are ignoring them, I added something recently to fixmystreet and noticed that there were many others in my local area which hadn't been addressed one year on. And by 'not addressed' I mean ignored, because the email generated went somewhere.
All those people come away with a negative impression of the council as their consequence, and perhaps most importantly the people in charge of the council.
I don't think councillors, almost all of them anyway, have yet seen what's happening on such websites and thought - ahah! if I don't address these community issues I might lose my seat. Whereas if these issues made it into the local paper even in one letter to the editor, they would.
There's a tipping point of recognition which none of the political parties and only a few councillors have made.
It will happen but there's a political recognition here as much as anything else which they need to make and perhaps those advocating this type of engagement need to bang on about.
HT: Dave Briggs