Whistleblower’s book ignored by all Croydon’s councillors | Inside Croydon

As voting approaches to elect local Councillors and the goings on in Parliament, by those who claim to be best placed to serve our interests, reaches new heights of incredulity (Panama Papers and politicians whose girlfriends are ladies of the night to name but two this past week) it is perhaps now more important than ever to use your voice and hold to account those who spend our hard-earned cash.

Madwblog’s new favourite pastime is making freedom of information (FOI) requests. I have several ongoing and are linked to a complaint I made to Anthony Cox back in February over ‘that’ flier. I am pleased to say that Anthony has been in touch recently and the complaint is making progress. As soon as there is more to tell, it will appear here.

As a result of making these FOI requests, Rob Tape got in touch to tell me about a book he has written: ‘Sorry, it’s not my department’.

 

Images from Amazon.

Which is exactly what it says it is. An honest view of the workings of a typical Town Council. Reviews of the book on Amazon suggest that it not only outlines all too familiar failings, but also offers suggestions on how things could be improved.

I have ordered my copy and I’m hoping to learn some new tricks. Look out for a review!

Local government worker ROB TAPE decided to write a book based on the experiences of his council work career. He called it Sorry, It’s Not My Department. He then wrote to all 70 of Croydon…

Source: Whistleblower’s book ignored by all Croydon’s councillors | Inside Croydon

Northfields Way – Traffic Regualtion Order has begun.

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Community champion and friend of madwblog, Laura Terry (Area Partnership Manager, Walsall Council) has been in touch to advise on the next stage in the process of placing barriers on Northfields Way.

After the community consultations in March, Laura took all the comments forward and the advice returned that a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) would be put in place to give notice of the intention to close Northfields Way to traffic. This has now begun (15th April) and there follows 3 weeks in which concerns or objections can be raised.

The following e-mail from Laura explains in full:

“Thank you for following closely the work we have undertaken in relation to Northfields Way.

As you are aware the TRO was scheduled to commence today and as such I provide you with an update below.

I will endeavour to contact individual residents who have requested an update when I am back in the office on Monday – I mention this for your information should you receive comments or queries regarding correspondence via your blog.

Best wishes

With reference to Northfields Way;

We are required to work in accordance with the Local Authorities’ Traffic Regulation Order Procedures.

In respect of publication the requirement is to publish the ‘notice of proposals’ in a newspaper circulating in the area in which any road or other place to which the order relates to is situated.

In this instance we have used the Walsall Advertiser as it is circulated within the WS8 postcode.

We have also taken a further measure to publicise our proposals which includes the display of on-street notices. 

 Please see below the information contained within the notice;

Full details of the proposal is contained in the Draft Order and plans which show the roads subject to the Order and the extent and details of the controls proposed. This Order, the plans and a statement of the Council’s reasons for proposing to make the Order may be examined at the offices of the Head of Democratic Services, The Council House, Darwall Street, WALSALL, during normal office hours.(Ref: PBW/DC/2265/3795)

 

Objections

Formal objections to the Order should be sent with the grounds for making them in writing (quoting Ref: PBW/DC/2265/3795) to the Head of Democratic Services, The Council House, Walsall WS1 1TW by not later than 6th May, 2016. “

As ever, this is a fully open and democratic process and should you have any concerns or objections please make them through the correct channels. Whilst Laura posts to Clayhanger now has a Community Centre and madwblog Facebook pages, she cannot respond on these pages to any questions you may raise.

Policy on releasing information to the public – a Freedom of Information request to Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council – WhatDoTheyKnow

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Image kindly by P Hummings

Madwblog made two Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests on 20th February 2016 in a letter to Cllr Bird, leader of Walsall Council:

Is it Council policy for the Leader of Council to use Social Media, such as the personal Facebook page of an unelected representative, in order to communicate with the electorate?’

And

‘I wonder if you could explain why the decision to put the barriers on Northfields Way, Clayhanger, in is not recorded on any public documents on the council’s website?’

What Do They Know? is the website which handles FOI requests. It is an open site and all requests are made public.

The returning (delayed) answer to both requests was:

‘…after consulting with the relevant service areas I can confirm that this
information is not held by the council. It is therefore exempt from
disclosure under section 1 of the Freedom of Information act.’

As this is not a satisfactory answer, madwblog has requested an internal review as this is next step in the procedure.

‘Thank you for your reply.

Unfortunately, I am not satisfied with the answer. Does this mean that Walsall Council does not have a social media policy?

I should like to seek an internal review of my request: “Is it Council policy for the Leader of Council
to use Social Media, such as the personal Facebook page of an unelected
representative, in order to communicate with the electorate”’

And

‘Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council’s handling of my FOI request ‘Policy on sharing planning information decisions with the public’.

I do not accept that the Council does not have a policy on sharing planning information decisions with the public.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p…

Yours faithfully,’

Madwblog has also filed another FOI request ‘Does Walsall Council have a social media policy for employees and representatives of Walsall Council including Councillors and those seeking to be elected as such?’

Again, I shall await a reply.

Source: Policy on releasing information to the public – a Freedom of Information request to Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council – WhatDoTheyKnow

Madwblog – a newborn blog serving an historically rich community | Centre for Community Journalism

Composed image by C4CJ. Aerial shot kindly by P Hummings.

Despite madwblog beginning with a rant back on 11th February 2016, there was an element of planning involved in its inception. I had already begun a short online course in Community Journalism hosted by The Centre for Community Journalism (C4CJ) at Cardiff University.

Naturally, I discussed the blog in the forums and signed madwblog up as part of the Centre for Community Journalism network of hyperlocal blogs. In the forums I got to chat with bloggers from all over the world, many of whom were reporting events from politically unstable parts of the globe including Africa and the Middle East.

C4CJ offers a wealth of resources for hyperlocal bloggers and as well as providing education, it is a research base. Digital media is rapidly changing how we receive and read news and it will not have escaped your notice that several large popular papers are now no longer in print. It just doesn’t pay for them anymore. Even in The Express and Star, local news is scantily reported because there just isn’t the money to recruit enough journalists to cover the stories. It’s a 21st century version of Buggles ‘Video Killed the Radio Star.’

Enter stage left, the hyperlocal. Folk like me and Brownhills Bob and many, many others in Walsall alone, report on local news and fill the gap. Proper local – like in your street.

I was asked by C4CJ to write a piece on the development of madwblog for their website. I did. A very talented lady called Hannah Scarbrough at C4CJ edited it and made it super slick and here it is.

Source: Madwblog – a newborn blog serving a historically rich community | Centre for Community Journalism