Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

In this case coffee mountains, or to be precise mountains of rubbish from outside Costa Coffee in the Harringay Arena shopping area.

Luptonn, before he joined HoL a week or so ago, posted this photo on Flickr with a request asking who to contact to complain about the mountain of rubbish.

Having already been in contact with Richard Jones at Wildmoor, the property owners, I dropped him a mail. He forwarded the mail to Costa Coffee HQ who wrote to their local store with request to get it sorted. Apparently the problem has been caused by a failure on the part of their refuse contractor - they've now suspended them and are using a new contractor until the problem with their normal contractor is resolved. They sounded worried both about the negative PR & faling foul of the council.

With the rider that the problem is sorted, all credit to Wildmoor and Costa for their speedy and constructive response.

So well done Luptonn for harnessing the power of the image. (And let's all keep an eye out and report back here and/or via Flickr if we have any more problems with Costa).

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As you know I am now a great advocate of getting your camera out when a problem arises and getting the evidence. It can have the curious effect of making the powers that be move 'emselves.
Well done to Luptonn (and you Hugh for getting the photo seen) who is a fellow photographer of the 'nest fouling' all around us for starting this off. I'm beginning to feel that I should get some special Mrs E badges made for my fellow campaigners; one for Luptonn and one for Anette for getting the Seymour road junk shifted :)
I took a photo of a really huge rat that I saw on Lausanne Rd a few weeks ago but I've been worried about posting it because of the reactions I get from some people when I show them the photo on my phone. Can I have a badge anyway?
of course!
You know where to send it - I'll wear it with pride!
A few years ago I spotted a similar problem with the Halifax Bank in Tottenham. They were very embarrassed when I pointed out the pile of bags which hadn't been collected. They had (fruitful) words with their waste contractor.

Many people - including me - are often nervous about going 'through the front door' and speaking directly e.g. to a trader who seems to be causing a problem. But it's usually not so difficult. Sensible traders don't need persuading that rubbish - especially ugly and smelly rubbish - outside their premises is bad for business. They welcome constructive criticism, knowing that every complaint dealt with politely and constructively may improve the way a business runs; as well as retaining current customers and winning new ones.

Okay, most people don't have the time to track down the name and phone number of the manager to complain. Which is where Good Neighbour Schemes come in. And why having an effective High Road manager who knows and works with local traders is like gold dust. (Probably the reason why injelitant Haringey decided not to replace the High Road managers in Wood Green and Tottenham! )
I only managed to resolve the skip truck issue by speaking to the firm involved about 6 times. The front door is where I'm headed from now on.
Yes, a good understanding of injelitance is needed for anyone spending any length of time in any hierarchical set-up. Only thing is, the longer you stay the more necessary to inoculate yourself against the contagion of ingelitis. Seems to me Alan is well inoculated, or naturally immune.
Hi Hugh - thank you for "pulling the strings" with Wildmoor and Costa. Let's hope this is the last time you have to speak to them.
Part of the reason that I like FixMyStreet.com is the facility for attaching photos which the council site doesn't have (nor does it have a public log for seeing what has been reported which is also another useful feature of FMS) but I've started adding the Flickr URL for my photos of problems to the description bit of the form just so its perfectly clear what I'm talking about. Shame you can't record and transmit the smells that accompany some of them...
I've added a new comment below Luptonn's Flickr photo of the dumped bags outside Costa Coffee. Potentially it's Flickr². Snapping Truth To Power + HarringayOnline website.

Liz's comment (above) about FixMyStreet.com follows a similar line. But I'm not yet convinced about this website. I may be completely wrong, of course.

In essence it seems to be an automated Call Centre. Which passes on referrals to the Council's Call Centre - which will have to pass some things on to Haringey Enterprise Call Centre. As Lady Bracknell might have said: "To have one Call Centre may be regarded as a misfortune ... to have two or even three seems like carelessness".

The problem, of course, is that not all problems come in standardised Call Centre-sized chunks. Attempts over the last two years to reintroduce Frederick W. Taylor's inappropriate and outdated management theory has meant that parts of Haringey are already poor at 'single-loop' learning. Call Centres make this worse. 'Double-loop' learning, lateral thinking and creativity become next to impossible.
I have used FMS whenI wasn't getting anywhere with the missing manhole cover and a few days later it was covered, could be coincidence. What I do like is being able to see whhat has already been reported and as I said sending the photos. However for persistent problems and obvious offenders, I think some direct action is definitely the best way!
Liz, you're making me think again about this website. I can certainly see the advantages of knowing that other people have complained about the same problem. Though sometimes this doesn't seem to make any difference. (Both my partner Zena, and at least one neighbour reported a dumped mattress at the end our road. It still took 3 - 4 days to be removed. Despite being on the corner of Park View Road N17 and in full view of any Enterprise vehicles going to and fro.

We agree about the 'belt-&-braces' approach. My preference is for a photo on Flickr plus the Report-a-Problem page on Haringey Council's website, giving the Flickr link. That way I receive and file an email record with both confirmation of my report and that they've had a link to a photo. FixMyStreet doesn't give me this.

Though my guess is that when someone just wants a straightforward solution to a standard problem, either FixMyStreet or Haringey website will work fine.

But I want more. In particular I want to see some organisational learning. (By which I don't just mean sending staff on courses. Or even getting them doing Māori dancing.)

If large numbers of people used FixMyStreet, their public map could begin to show patterns and clusters. But this doesn't by itself mean that any learning is happening. (In the same way, Haringey's focus on "Performance Management" - i.e. box-ticking - may delight the great-&-good of the Audit Commission, but I'm doubtful how much difference it makes to actual service performance as experienced by residents.)

Systems should enable not just doing the existing work well, but also generate information to do it better. And enable and stimulate fresh thinking and rethinking. How do our services need to change? Are we providing the right services at all? How can we act on the causes of problems?

One of my favourite guides and critics on these issues is John Seddon. Anyone interested can download some free short articles from his website.. His latest book Systems Thinking in the Public Sector is worth reading, too.

Alan

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