Thursday, 13 December 2007

"Be Nice to the Mayor" Campaign

Somewhat against the grain in political terms, but in the spirit of the season, I started a small campaign today that I encourage you all to join.

Forest Hill, SE23 recently topped a poll to find the place residents were most proud of in their area. Called 'Pride of Place', Forest Hill and the Horniman Museum won comfortably despite being in competition with Blackheath, the Catford Cat, the Laban centre and others. And quite rightly too.

The trouble is that we are a quite small and, relatively speaking, affluent part of Lewisham. I totally understand that there are big problems to address in other parts of the Borough that take up a lot of the Mayor's (Sir Steve Bullock) time and that of those involved with Lewisham Council. However, we too have our issues such as the ongoing closure of the pools, the terrible state and services of our station (as well as the shops that are part of that area, including the new Post Office within the WH Smiths) and the total lack of any visible effort to generate new businesses to fill the empty retail properties.

I decided, therefore, that rather than complain (again) I would turn it around and be nice; after all, it works in most other aspects of my life.

I have written a Christmas Card to "Sir Steve" to wish him well, and with a simple request to make Forest Hill a greater priority for 2008.

If you are a member of you may already have read the discussion and text here, if not (and you should be), here is the text of the card. If you are a Forest Hill resident and wish to join in, please do. It only takes a few seconds and the cost of a second class stamp. After all, this will only work if we get a reasonable number of people doing the same thing.

Sir Steve

My family and I wish you, your family and everyone at Lewisham Council all the best for Christmas and the New Year.

We are proud residents of Forest Hill and we were not surprised that Forest Hill and the Horniman Museum were recently voted Lewisham's top 'Pride of Place'. However, there are still too many empty shops, we desperately need our pool back and we would appreciate your active support in helping to regenerate our sadly neglected station area.

The best gift we could hope for would be for you and Lewisham Council to make Forest Hill a much greater priority in the coming year.

Wishing you a happy 2008

I'm sure others will word their notes better, but a few cards like this might just make the difference, you never know.

Please send your cards or emails to:

Sir Steve Bullock
Mayor of Lewisham and Forest Hill
Mayor's office
Civic Suite,
Town Hall, Catford
Tel: 020 8314 6193

Thanks! (oh, and drop me a note if you do decide to join in)


Jens Winton said...

So let me see if I have this right. It's not enough that the Mayor has almost total control over Lewisham by himself and is amply rewarded for it. It's not enough that Councillors elected by the people can only stand by and watch this happen with little means to combat it. Are you advocating that those with justifiable grievances against this one-man show should instead appeal to his ego? To indulge, if not in a form of brown nosing, then to surrender to some kind of Stockholm Syndrome?

And do you think there is even an ounce of sincerity in this form of sucking up? Do you think the Mayor will be turned by such forced sentimentality when he knows you are trying to wrap up complaints among the cooing?

Appeasement never works. Be respectful by all means but please don't ask people to demean their or the Mayor's dignity.

Robert McIntosh said...

Wow Jens! Have another cup of tea.

Let me point out that this is not a political blog, so I have no axe to grind in any direction.

My personal feelings about a directly elected Mayor that has the range of powers over the council that he has is beside the point. I am not campaigning here to change that (although I might at another time).

I have a specific goal. To raise the profile of Forest Hill's issues with the person who, currently, has the greatest ability to change resolve them.

I could do this by sending complaining notes, standing outside his offices with banners, etc. There are certainly those that do this, and they can certainly continue to do so - did I say somewhere that they should not?

I thought that, as it is Christmas, I might take a different approach. If it has no effect, so be it. It cost me 30 seconds to write the card, 24p for a stamp, and a few minutes walk to the post box.

Brown nosing? A bit harsh for someone who wished someone who, whether we like it or not, is a directly elected official, Merry Christmas.

Stockholm Syndrome? Am I somehow a hostage in my own home without realising it?

Forced sentimentality? I added a personal request to a simple good wish which we traditionally send at this time of year.

Appeasement? Are we trying to draw comparisons between the state of forest hill's ills and some war around the world?

I must say I have not come across your name before (good surname!), but I have now briefly visited your blog. I think that this response does not add to my view of local politicians. By all means disagree with me or the campaign, but this verges awfully close on a personal attack on a community minded local resident. Not very nice Mr Winton!

Jens Winton said...

Isn't free speech a wonderful thing? No one is restricting your right to wish anyone a Merry Christmas, anymore than I am being prevented from mocking it on this occasion. What I find alarming is that your gesture is not an end in itself - and arguably one that most of us express in private when it is truly genuine - but rather as part of a means to publicly obtain some redress down the road.

The Mayor may be directly elected but that doesn't mean the democratic will of the people have been served. I am not alone with this view here:

This is not a personal attack against you anymore than you might find my surname a point of interest.

Robert McIntosh said...

I should point out that my screen name (for a variety of reasons) is RobWinton - this may not have been immediately apparent, so it was a genuinely congratulatory comment, not a dig.

Fine, we can agree to disagree. Or rather, I can agree with your point (which happens to be totally unrelated to my issue), and you can continue to mock. Thanks!

My good wishes to the Mayor, as a person, are genuine, and I encourage others to do the same, but there is no harm to use the opportunity to make a point as well. It is not cynical, it is just a note.

I'd wish you a Merry Christmas too, but I fear you might think I was mocking you too or maybe being cynical?

Jens Winton said...

I was not aware of your screen name until your last post. It appears otherwise as Robert Mcintosh.

I have no problem in accepting your wishes for me in having a Merry Christmas. I really don't! And if you want to do the same for Sir Steve, then please, don't let me stop you!

This is not even a matter worth falling into that old chestnut of "We can agree to disagree".

I just think the wily old Mayor will see your gesture simply as another means to try and sway him. And I think you know that deep down too.

Oh and thanks for recommending I have a cup of tea but my morning brew is a coffee which I'm about to go for now.


Robert McIntosh said...

It IS an attempt to sway him, I make no bones about it (I wouldn't have posted about it here otherwise, would I?).

However, I thought he might appreciate it coming in a genuinely nice and positive message rather than the usual rant. I'm sure that will be fairly unusual for his post bag.

Have a nice coffee! I might do the same.

Merry Christmas, then!

By the way, are you a regular reader or how did you come across the post? I like to find out a little about my readers when I can - we bloggers get little enough feedback. It helps us write more interesting stuff (although I think I'll steer clear from politics and campaigns for a while).

Jens Winton said...

I make heavy use of Google Alerts: I've got over 50 set to all kinds of keywords so whenever anything pops up of personal or political interest online, I get an email almost the same time with a link.

While I am a political animal, my blog, regrettably dormant for too long, has attempted to look at the topic in a different way. That said, my non-political life makes more demands on me than when I've got this hat on so things do slip.

I was one of the original bloggers that turned up for Andrew's drink in 2006 at the Jolly Farmer's although I regret it was my last one. And I have posted fewer posts this year than the month of December 2006! I do hope to try and be more active in 2008.

And on that note, Merry Christmas to you too!