This week’s letters to the editor: 10/08/17

(10 August, 2017) Letters

This week we had letters from the council's cabinet member for finance respond further to our story about purchase of 2,000 iPhones and iPads; congestion and air pollution along Crystal Palace Road; and thoughts on police's investigation of the Millwall pitch invasion

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Tech needed for council to do better job

Regarding last week’s front page article ‘I-watering Southwark splashes out on nearly 2,000 Apple products in it’s bid reduce paper use – spending over £700,000’ (Southwark News, August 3, 2017).

Southwark residents are already starting to benefit because council staff are getting the tools that they need to do an ever better job:

Far from ‘splashing out’ we want front line staff and councillors to be able to respond quickly, with the information that they need at their fingertips, cutting down on form filling and costly bureaucracy.

For example, we have created a new app which means that our housing inspectors can much more efficiently manage repairs, doing more in the working day, without the need to come in and out of the office.  We are getting much more done, completing more repairs and resolving more issues for tenants as a result.

Far from being forced to give up their Blackberries as Cllr Barber claimed, the LibDem councillors also welcomed the change. Indeed the Leader of the Opposition demanded an apology when her councillors were initially left out of the iPhone pilot and later the feedback from the  LibDem chief whip was that the iPhone was “certainly a great improvement on the Blackberry”.

Southwark News is right to scrutinise what we spend as a council, just as we did when we decided to invest in iPhones and iPads for staff who need them.

We took the decision to change because we had to: our previous Blackberry based technology was no longer supported, so we had to make a change. Your article last week quotes that a Blackberry costs £20, for the type we were using the last batch actually cost around £159 and the price was increasing.

When choosing to go with Apple devices we took all considerations into account: as we all know when we buy a phone or tablet, we need to think about the immediate cost and also reliability, data security and whether it offers the apps we need. This is even more important for an organisation such as the council: we don’t want to wake up to headlines that sensitive data has been leaked, or to find that we can’t provide residents with the information they need because we can’t run the right app.

For all these reasons and more, the real story here is weServe and weSave, not iWatering.

Cllr Fiona Colley, Cabinet Member for Finance, Modernisation & Performance Labour Member for Nunhead Ward

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Action should be taken on road chaos

As expected LBC radio and other media announced total chaos on the roads of Westwood Hill / Crystal Palace Park Road and Sydenham Hill as Conway begins its ridiculously slow work on ONE intersection.

Residents and users of the road were informed at the last minute of these works which are largely asthetic. No explanation has been given as to the benefit to the community and road users will receive, nor the cost.

Worse still is this work will take 220 days! 220 days of POLLUTING traffic jams!!

As local businesses lose money, workers get stuck in traffic in buses and in cars and productivity in our capital dives. Added to this carbon emmissions go up and up.

Work on an interesection in most of the world would require an average of 30 days to complete. Whilst taxpayers lines the pockets of Conway for a minimum of 220 days.

I hope LBC who are now informed will follow this on their traffic delays on the NIck Ferrari breakfast show.

I call on Southwark News to follow this story closely too.

The London Mayor and green groups will be contacted as this work does nothing but add to carbon emmisions and creates pollution across London.

This intersection is on the edge of numerous boroughs and Lambeth, Lewisham and Bromley residents and shop owners will also be seriously affected. All councils will be contacted if no further action is taken.

Soutwark Council Watchdogs will this week launch various online petitions across London and Nationwide as this waste of money, time and creation of pollution should not be allowed to continue.

Greg Holborow, via email

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The wider picture to Millwall pitch invasion

Carole Brady (‘What a waste of time’, Southwark News Letters 2 August, 2017) claims that the Met Police are wasting their time trying to arrest those supporters who carried out the ‘heinous crime’ of going onto the Wembley pitch following the play-off final.

I was at that game and most Millwall supporters who went on the pitch did so in a light hearted fashion, just wishing to celebrate the team’s triumph and to take selfies.

Nevertheless, these supporters committed a crime, albeit the minor one of trespassing.

However, the police are not really interested in these supporters. They are after the thugs in the photographs who threatened and intimidated the Bradford players.

Threatening people is not a minor crime by any stretch of imagination. Millwall has a poor public image and as soon as it improves over a period of time along comes something like the Wembley invasion to put the club back to square one. Ms Brady fails to see the broader picture or the implications of what she sees as something minor.

Firstly, sponsors are reluctant to be associated with the club because of its tarnished image.

Secondly, when Millwall play away this season the local police forces will place restrictions on the time of the kick-offs etc. Millwall will find it difficult to argue because the police will point to the Wembley invasion.

I am sure that Millwall FC do not regard the Met police action as a ‘waste of time’.

Patrick Burke, via email

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Action against boards

Earlier this year Southwark Council introduced a policy of fining estate agents for putting up boards on council estates and retaining them in places where they are not allowed.

As a result there are a great deal less agent’s boards in the area and those that are up tend to be bona fide.

However just recently Residential Realtor have put up a huge number of boards on properties that they are probably not instructed on and are definitely not allowed to put up boards.

This is not only unnecessary but creates an uneven playing field putting more established agents who are helping to sell a genuine property at a disadvantage.

No doubt the council will fine Residential Realtor and ensure that they do not carry on this practice.

Name and address supplied

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How to kill two birds with one stone

The Local Government Association has stated that by 2020 there will be a £5.8 billion funding gap for social care.

Now consider the overseas aid budget, £13 billion and rising? This money, given away so easily to foreign governments to spend (waste), on questionable schemes, while people who have paid taxes all their lives, have to fund their own care in old age.

Here’s an idea that might make the foreign aid budget more palatable.

When an overseas patient (health tourist)  leaves the NHS with an outstanding bill and that patient is a citizen of one of the countries we give foreign aid to, then deduct the outstanding debt from that country’s aid donation and given to the NHS. That country can then chase one of it’s own citzens for payment.

It may be small at times but at least the NHs will receive a boost to it’s budget, and as they say, every little helps.

This is killing two birds with one stone.

Reg O’Donoghue, Walworth

Southwark NewsComment