Saturday, May 19, 2007

In praise of open government!

As MPs vote to stop us finding out what is going on, we think it worth mentioning that there is one small bastion of clear information left at Greenwich Council. It is the Neighbourhood Services Policy and Performance Unit.

Most will have never heard of them of course, but they produce a monthly report which we occasionally get to see. It actually tells those who get it (which includes most Councillors) what is going on - assuming they bother reading it of course and we doubt most of them do! This months highlights include:

1: The reduction in rent arrears which the Council hopes to reduce by £500,000 this year has actually gone up by £23,000. Of course this is better than before, but how has this been achieved? Not by reducing current tenants arrears (which is up by almost £100,000 over the year), but instead by a sudden huge reduction in the former tenant arrears? Do we think they have tracked these people down? No we don’t, we think they have written it off – or given it away as it could be termed! Hurrah for almost meeting a target in the most cynical way!

2: Another target Greenwich almost met was to answer the phone within 15 seconds – not all that tough you’d have thought. Our office answer machine cuts in before we get to that point! However, their target is only to answer 70% of calls in the 15 seconds and guess what, they only managed 69.1%. Even when they set themselves a low target they still fail to meet it!

Anyway, we want to thank the Information Policy and Performance Unit – we doubt you’ll be able to keep sending out the report for much longer, but we hope you keep your jobs. You're the only ones in the Council who tell people what's really going on – we’re sure Greenwich don’t want that sort of information around really.

This posting is therefore dedicated to the Information Policy and Performance Unit. We salute you, you are heroes!

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