Yep. This saga rumbles on. You may remember coverage last year on how Greenwich Council have spent £3.5 million they are allocated by Transport for London each year. Greenwich Council were, and still are, very reticent. Public information is minimal.
We are now half way through the financial year and still none the wiser as to how big pots of money will be spent. For example, £150,000 was allocated to Plumstead High Street yet no details whatsoever was provided beyond that on what it would cover.
I compared how Greenwich’s behaviour contrasted with Lewisham Council who place detailed information in the public domain, in large part based upon consultation with local groups and through ward meetings the year before spending is planned.
The financial year is now half way through so just how meaningful will any consultation for the Plumstead scheme and others actually be? Anything that council officers draw up will have very little time to be revised given the approaching spending deadline in six months.
Ideally what should be under consultation now is next years schemes in order to be advanced by the time next April arrives. This years should be signed off and long ago made public.
Planning for next year is just what Lewisham have done again. Today they have put next year’s plans in the public domain after consultation on them at public meetings.
What are councillors doing?
A number of people have contacted Greenwich Councillors enquiring about the silence on this funding, particularly in the element where a fair amount of discretion on spending is allowed within broad goals.
Instead of going into bat for residents and asking departments for more details and information they leap to their defence. A common theme. This cut and paste response referring to a site (not sure which…) has been sent to a number of people:
Much to ponder.
Such as when they refer to it being claimed there’s more detail from Lewisham Council than Greenwich Council? Well yes, as it is true and has been referenced many times.
Also, why publish a headline then draw up details. Who decides the headlines? It seems the wrong way around.
Then when drawing up details after deciding on a headline why no consultation with the public at this stage?
Why are details then only released to the public so late in the year that plans are a fait accompli?
Here’s the full list of schemes they choose this year:
Lewisham Council’s plans for next year are well-researched and detailed as usual. This is what is expected with such sizeable funds.
Greenwich Council have put out not much more than a pamphlet in recent years. It’s extremely bare and lacking detail.
So what was the response to a question asking for greater detail and consultation? Well, in response to a resident looking for transparency regarding details about a £3.5 million funding pot, they were told doing so is just “producing paper”.
Getting the job done. With little detail. With little public feedback. With few results for 20 years.
Just open up and ask the public what their priorities are (within the bounds of what’s possible), then make results and subsequent schemes publicly available. This isn’t rocket science. Not engaging until the tail end of the financial year means engagement isn’t meaningful and various areas aren’t seeing desired improvements.
Leaving things to the last minute is a sign of poorly functioning departments as well as secrecy. It’s a similar thing that is now seeing right-to-buy income being hastily spent in a far less cost-effective way before it returns to central government.
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