Thursday, September 04, 2008

Carshalton Blog wins Gold

Many thanks to all of you that voted for me as one of your top political blogs. This year, I've reached the giddy heights of 57th 56th top political blog in some highly esteemed company, up from 155th in 2007. As a local blog, I don't expect to compete with the best-known blogs but I'm very appreciative of the support and I hope that it helps to raise the profile of what is happening in the Borough.

The last year has seen more debate on the blog as people get a little bolder, leaving comments. Readership has picked up overall though dipped in the summer as I posted less frequently. Absolute Unique Visitors as measured by Google Analytics reports a monthly readership of between 350-500. Not bad when you consider that Sutton Council could only muster 22 responses to its annual budget consultation.

My resolution for the coming year is to post more regularly. This is akin to the giving-up-smoking New Year resolution as other commitments start to call upon my time, but I'll persevere whilst trying not to dilute the site with posts that are covered far better by others. Let's see how long it lasts anyway. Keep the comments coming and the debate flowing.

Update: 2nd resolution is to proof-read a little more carefully. Thanks to a very public sociologist for pointing out that he was 57th whilst I was 56th.


Anonymous said...

Don't do yourself down, Scully. I'm number 57, you're number 56!

Unknown said...

Thanks AVPS, lesson 1: a little less time in self-congratulatory mode, a little more time proofreading.

Adrian Short said...

Congratulations. Let's hope your success encourages other Sutton councillors to start blogging.

Longer term I'd like to see some council officers blogging officially about their jobs and responsibilities. While I'm sure we'd all like them to be dedicated to delivering the services we pay for, I think there's scope for decentralising some council communications and adding officers' blogs to the mix.

One officer in each department blogging for 15 minutes a day would greatly improve the frequency and hopefully the quality of communications.

Unknown said...

Thanks Adrian. Week after week, it becomes more apparent that communications is not a strength of the Council. Many political institutions only consider communications in one direction, out towards residents and so fail to respond to various views.

I was always taught using a simple maxim: if you took a medicine, would you rather your body responded to treatment or reacted to it. There is too much of the latter caused by a lack of preparation and understanding.

Your suggestion of a council blog is a really interesting one. BBC News has a blog entitled The Editors, where various editors across the Beeb share stories about editorial decisions, what goes on behind the news coverage of particular stories etc. This may be a worthwhile example to look at.

Adrian Short said...

You're right that communication needs to go beyond top-down broadcasting. I think there are three stages. The first is that broadcasting: getting your message out there. The second is soliciting feedback through structured, formal channels like consultations. The third is hosting conversations in which the council (in this case) provides the "venue" in which people can collectively discuss and to a degree design the services they require. The conversation is framed not as a dialogue between the council and "the public" but a multi-way one between all the relevant people.

To make this work requires not just new tools and technology but a fundamentally new attitude about the relationship between government and the governed.

Your point about the low response rate to the budget consultation is a good one. I wouldn't say that formal consultations are entirely a waste of time, but there need to be many more channels and opportunities for participation in the ongoing conversation about where we want to go and how we want to get there. Posting comments on a blog has a fairly low barrier to entry and yet can provide a great deal of value not just to the council but to the whole readership of that blog.

In government, FCO Bloggers looks promising. BBC's The Editors is interesting because by providing some behind-the-scenes information they help the readership to understand the context and constraints within which decisions are made. While not everyone wants to be bored with the minutiae of how everything works, being more transparent about decision-making processes and contexts helps people to suggest constructive improvements rather than simplistic solutions that couldn't work in practice.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Well done.

Is there any way you can get the poll 'seasonally adjusted' and claim first spot?

Anonymous said...

Good work, Councillor Scully.

I have always found your blog easy to read and informative.

Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

up to 56 from 155, that ain't bad mate!

keep it up and get rid of these blooming liberals!!


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