Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Earth Hour

May or may not be your bag, but had this sent to me via one of the networks I belong to:Created to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming.This simple act has captured the hearts and minds of people all over the world. As a result, at 8pm on the 29 March, 2008 millions of people in some of the world’s major capital cities, including Copenhagen, Toronto, Chicago, Melbourne, Brisbane, Tel Aviv and Manila will unite and switch off for Earth Hour.For more info see Earth Hour

I'm not the Only one who Sees the Need for Contracts with Local Govt - No 10 does too.

Following a recent discussion about the possible need for contracting with councillors, I received the following today:

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears announced plans for new 'community contracts' across England today - giving communities the opportunity to agree deals and written guarantees with their council on a wide range of service standards from tackling drug dealing on estates, bin collection, clearing graffiti and street cleaning.

For more on this see Community contracts to drive better services on The Department for Communities & Local Governemnt Website

Harringay Street Cleaning - Extremely Short Notice Consultation – and some Odd Logic

Towards the end of last week, a notice from Haringey Council was posted through my door with some information about revised street cleaning arrangements and an invitation to provide feedback as part of a consultation on the effectiveness of these new arrangements.I was keen to maximise the participation in this feedback process. So I thought I’d put a note on the site here. Before doing that however, I wanted to check some background. The notice was addressed to me as a Hewitt Road Resident and explained that only certain roads would benefit from this improved street cleaning. I thought I ought to find out which other roads were included before putting anything on the site (maybe that was the wrong decision given the consultation timescale. Sorry.)Yesterday Haringey returned my call and I spoke to a very helpful chap, Chris Collins, in Waste Management who gave me the names of the roads affected by the new scheme. In a nutshell, it’s pretty much all of the roads in Harringay (see this Google Map for my definition of Harringay). Yet it was the subsequent conversation which arose from a few additional questions I posed that was to prove the most interesting. The outcome of the conversation is summarised below. I’m afraid that there are certain gaps in the information I have because the list Chris was working from was arranged by day an covered the whole borough. So it was difficult for him to pick out all the roads – but I think we covered 90%:1. Most roads in Harringay are swept once a week. EXCEPT, Rutland Gardens, Stanhope Gardens which are swept twice a week with the ends near to Green Lanes swept daily. (These more intensive cleaning arrangements may also cover Roseberry and Kimberley (sorry - info gap), BUT not Chesterfield or any Ladder roads). I imagine Green Lanes is also cleaned daily.2. Under the new arrangements most roads in Harringay are now getting a 'litter-pick' once a week. BUT for the Ladder roads this litter-pick covers only the western end of the roads, that is to say the part between the Passage and Wightman. AND WITH THE EXCEPTION of Sydney, Raleigh (and perhaps a couple of the neighbouring streets – info gap here) whose entire length is litter-picked.Go figure, does that make sense to you? Where I’m not sure about certain roads in the info above I have made that clear. Should you want to check your own road, you can contact Chris Collins on 020 8489 5668.So now we have a consultation, please respond on the 3 specific questions they ask:1. Have you noticed the litter pickers?2. Do you think they are doing a good job?3. Does your street look cleaner?But, if you feel it is appropriate you may also decide to comment on the logic of the general cleaning schedule.The email address for responses is streetscene@haringey.gov.uk The deadline is 1st February. (NOW EXTENDED TO 8TH - see my "reply" below.)

Sustainable Communities Act 2007

Last year a new piece of legislation received royal assent. In a nutshell, it's about encouraging initiatives by central governement through consulting locally and with residents given a key role.By October 2008 the government must ask every council to submit suggestions of ways that it can help residents and local authrities make communities more sustainable. Local authrities must ask residents' opinions of what these suggestions should be.The usual meaningless consultation? – wrong! Your council now has a legal duty to set up citizens panels (drawn from all sections of the community – not just the usual suspects!) and then to try to reach agreement with those panels on suggestions you make and then submit them to the government; and the government has a legal duty to co-operate with local authorities and try to reach agreement on what action it will take on the suggestions. This is the first major reversal in the power structure (whereby all decisions are made in Whitehall) that has ever been enshrined in law. This is a new bottom-up process we fought so hard for, so that the policies to create sustainable communities will be driven by you and your fellow citizens, not by civil servants in Whitehall.So we all need to keep an eye on how Haringey will deal with this and ensure that we're properly involved.