Council

How to kill retailing?

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Today I suffered from small council politics. I visited Long Eaton which is “controlled” by Erewash Council.  

They have taken it upon themselves to charge for parking in the towns car parks (it is however free to park at the huge Asda and Tesco stores in the town). Consequently when I arrived there were plenty of spaces, and the town was quiet!  

An empty Long Eaton Carpark

 

On going to pay my £1 for two hours I noticed that the ticket machine said 12:00 and did not appear to be changing! I therefore did not want to get a ticket as it was one o’clock already! I decided to ring the “hot line” advertised on the ticket  machine to be used in the event of problems. Fantastic! Only problem being that it took three minutes for the phone to be answered, then after the numerous “if you know the number you want press….” messages I got through. Great! Time for some action from the hot line!  

Errr no actually! Apparently they were aware of the problem and a warden would be there in a few minutes to sort it out.  

Now if I had been in Nottingham they would have taken my car registration and given me an hour or more free to help me get on with what I was doing. But I was willing to wait a few minutes if it was going to solve my issue.  

Ten minutes later, no warden. Fifteen minutes later, no warden. I gave up and drove to another car park, paid, collected my things together and set off to do my business in the town. On the way I met some wardens and told them about the problem in the other car park. “oh yes, we know. We are just on our way over there”  

Well done Erewash – real customer care and a great way to kill your local centre!  

Perhaps they should look at how Nottingham would deal with it!

Balancing the Books

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Nottingham City Council have this week announced their proposed budget for next year. As expected they have to make some significant and difficult cuts and have confirmed a variety of measures which they are proposing (including job losses which are always difficult).

However the item which has made the news is the proposal to start charging for meter parking on Sundays. Council run car parks already work on a 7 day charge rate so they are not affected. But, it has always been possible to dive into town on a Sunday and park for nothing on the street meters and hit a few shops.

The council have apparently considered this at length and confirmed that this will raise around £60,000 per annum for the council coffers. I would suggest that it will take far more from the cities retailers. Shoppers intending to park all day to do a major bit of shopping will park in one of the main car parks – so their income for the council will remain the same and their spending in the shops will remain. The quick shopping brigade will however go elsewhere and I believe their spend will be missed.

The proposal also includes charging for parking in some Nottingham City Council controlled suburban car parks (Sherwood and Bulwell), again not a good idea in my view (and my colleague).

Perhaps the council could save money elsewhere? Publications telling us how good they are? Sponsoring wierd events? Lets get back to core values for local services and drive this Cities economy forward.

Time to perhaps look at core values for local authorities, rather than empire building?

To Twitter or Not to Twitter?

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"The Twitter Gang"

The news that five councillors in Cornwall have been admonished for Twittering during a council meeting has raised an interesting question. 

When should one twitter and about what? 

The tweets which have been reported were sent during a councillor’s allowances and housing meeting and mocked other members at the meeting. 

They included “naughty boy!”, “high level of accidental sexual innuendo in the council today”, “she said phones must be switched off. (I love that we’re completely ignoring that instruction)” and “chairman indirectly instructs us not to tweet from the meeting. Whoops!” 

Interestingly most of the errant twitterers who are being called the “The Twitter Gang” also have their own blogs, so they are actually much more ‘open’ to their public than the councillors who are complaining about them. All of the twitterers (who are from all parties) have commented on their blogs about the issue and they all admit that some of the tweets were flippant. But also that in many cases they have used it to field questions from others not able to make the meeting. Also the council have not received any complaints from the general public.  Surely this is a case of having to trust people to use their judgement. This style of media is here to stay, certainly as a firm we see the benefit and have a Twitter presence. It can only make the political process more relevant to the ‘techie’ generation. 

It does show the divide between the ‘tech savy’ and ‘tech luddites’ however. I have found people are either  interested when they discover that I am a Twitterer and have a blog or they think it’s a waste of time and can’t understand why I would want to do it – but nothing in between. 

Are we therefore becoming a split society with those that embrace the technology and the modern methods of interacting, and those who want nothing to do with it? I think so. This then raises the question as to whether or not it is rude to tweet in the presence of a non twitterer! This could become a social nightmare! 

We need some guidance – time for an official etiquette of twittering – looking on line I can’t find a definitive version, any takers?