It dawned on me a little while back that I’d got into a habit of moaning about Greenwich Council without trying to do anything positive about it. Indeed, someone told me that one of the ruling Labour group on the council had said I was just “inventing” problems that didn’t really exist. But was I? And to be fair, I’d got into a habit of moaning in public because I’d found dealing with Greenwich Council such a spirit-grinding experience it was easier not to bother. But with a new year approaching, I decided to turn over a new leaf and once I’d published the post about Kidbrooke’s Henley Cross bus interchange being dangerously under-lit, I let the council know.
One of the lights at Henley Cross has broken – together with the broken light at the bus stop, and the general poor condition of the interchange, it makes it a sad and intimidating place to wait for a bus.
I had to wait until Wednesday at 8pm for a reply. Just to refresh your memory, here’s a photo of this lonely little corner next to Kidbrooke railway station.
Thank you for your e-mail dated 13th December 2009.
In response to your e-mail regarding a street light not working in Henleys Cross,before I can pass this information over to our street light department, can you please advise what number Henleys Cross the light in question is located
On behalf of Greenwich Council Contact Centre
Errr…. there aren’t any numbers. There are no houses on Henleys Cross. You can see in the photograph! You can see on the map where it is! It’s not hard!
Except, if you work for Greenwich Council, it probably is. I’ve had this trouble before, where I’ve sent weblinks to photographs to illustrate problems and they’ve been completely ignored. Bascially, if you complain by e-mail to the council, it goes to a “contact centre” who take 3 days to get back to you. So if it’s something like fly-tipping you’re reporting, you’d be better off using a carrier pigeon, or using a quill, ink, finest vellum, and then dispatching a messenger on foot to take it to the town hall. New technology? No use for it, guv.
And it would appear the “contact centre” have no access to the internet. So rather than checking fixmystreet.com for the complaint in question, or cross-checking complaints with maps, the contact centre sends you another e-mail. Which they’ll then take three days to reply to. Meaning it could take a week just to get someone on the case.
I’ve actually had a better response grumbling to the council’s Twitter feed, but that’s a minority sport and you’re dependent on the press team noticing it. And they’re probably sick of me complaining. But when things like this happen, is it any wonder I have such a low opinion of Greenwich Council’s ability to sort out the most basic problem?
So how about the council making sure its contact centre is a bit more effective? How about giving them access to the internet so they can do their jobs properly? It’s not that hard, is it? It’s not as eye-catching an improvement as employment of street wardens in high-profile areas, but could actually help the council do its job properly.
After all, in the case of Henley Cross, it’s only the safety of its residents at sake, isn’t it?