FixMyStreet allows residents to contact council departments directly – but it was never fully installed by Greenwich

Greenwich Council has never fully installed a system aimed at improving the way it responds to reports of flytipping and other street faults, councillors heard on Monday night.

In common with many councils, Greenwich uses FixMyStreet, a service provided by civic technology specialists MySociety, best known for the What Do They Know freedom of information website. While Greenwich used a customised version of the site, reports can be sent to any authority in the country via the website or app.

But a scrutiny panel on Monday night heard that the service – which is meant to enable residents to directly contact departments who remove rubbish and fix potholes and broken lamps – had never been fully installed.

A new back-end system is being tested which will allow better reporting of street issues, assistant chief executive Katrina Delaney said.

Woolwich Riverside councillor John Fahy asked: “How do we resolve this question around FixMyStreet? People constantly complain because they don’t get a response, so they perceive that there’s little concern about their areas.”

Delaney said: “We had the front end of [FixMyStreet] but it was never fully integrated. It depended on someone going into it, looking at the issue, downloading it, and passing it onto someone and it being a job.

“What we’re working towards now is a new environmental management system, it’s already been introduced in streets and in caretaking, we haven’t gone for a full public launch because we want to make sure it works but staff are certainly using it.”

Delaney said the new system would “keep the look and feel of FixMyStreet because that’s what people expect”. “But right now if someone comes in with a missed bin or a flytip needs picking up, that should go immediately to the back office to be picked up.”

The six-strong panel was discussing the ways the council consults with residents, with a report acknowledging that the current online system was “not particularly attractive and can be difficult to use”, with the council tendering for a new system.

Conservative leader Matt Hartley brought up Lewisham Council’s use of the Commonplace platform to proactively ask residents for ideas of where areas could be improved – an idea rejected by leader Danny Thorpe.

“It’s a political decision, we don’t decide what the council is going to do,” Delaney said. “There’s have to be a decision about managing expectations. Technically, it could be possible, but the decision on whether or not to do that wouldn’t be an officer decision.”

Panel chair Chris Lloyd (Labour, Peninsula) agreed that it should recommend that council look at such a proposal – with Hartley adding: “The leader is the council is more likely to listen to your recommendation than mine.”

  • Abbey Wood councillor Clive Mardner questioned whether the minutes of the panel’s last meeting were accurate after he said he was mocked on social media for comments he made about the council needing to promote itself better in his ward. “I can’t police social media,” chair Chris Lloyd told him, pointing out that how he was presented there was not a matter for the panel.

    Last month’s overview and scrutiny meeting saw Mardner assert that the council had been spending money from developers in Abbey Wood, but had not been telling residents. A full report and video of Mardner’s comments was featured on 853.

    Mardner complained that meetings were not recorded, and asked: “Where do I go to get an accurate statement of what was said?” Unfortunately, nobody pointed him to 853. The later part of the exchange can be seen below.

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