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May 08 2017

The @harrow_council “Your Place, Your Space” app – total waste of time

Harrow Council has started publicising it’s new mobile phone application, Your Place, Your Space. The idea is that residents can report, easily, issues they spot across the borough, and upload photographs, to the council. These would then, in theory, get dealt with, and we all end up living in a cleaner, safer place.

The app’s description says:

Have you found a streetlight in Harrow that needs repairing? Is there an overflowing bin on your walk through your favourite park? Maybe a fly-tipping problem on your route to work?

No problem! Simply use Your Place, Your Space to submit a photo or video of the issue along with the GPS location from your phone and we will get our teams out there to resolve it. Your reports help us send the right people to the right place so that issues are resolved in the least amount of time.

You can also use Your Place, Your Space to tell Harrow Council about the things and the places you love in the borough! Just submit a snap and our teams will see it and make sure it remains well cared for.

Your Place, Your Space is the simplest way to notify us of any issues and allows you to be kept updated on the progress of your reports.

Road Closures, planning applications and public notices are all available from the Your Place, Your Space app, so you can always keep in touch with what is happening in your borough.

Your Place, Your Space is the free and easy to use app that will help you help us in making a difference to our borough

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Not so. It’s a total waste of time.

  • Sunday, 12.30: we reported a spot of flytipping, by uploading a picture and noting the precise location.
  • Monday, 06.17: response back from the council: “Your report has now been marked as Closed on our system. Thank you for supporting the London Borough of Harrow team. Working together we can all help in keeping our Borough clean and tidy.”
  • Monday, 06.50: flytip still there.

What’s the point of pretending to residents that this makes a difference? Yes, the ticket may be closed – and if the council simply plans to close all reports, without doing anything, presumably they can then magic up some pretty green charts to fool us that they’re doing something that we actually pay them for.

The potential of this app is huge: but it depends on honesty and integrity from the council, and that, unfortunately, seems to be the issue.

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13 comments

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  1. Sunny

    Hardly surprising is it? I’ve reported potholes across Harrow on their website for weeks now and they’ve done nothing about it. I’ve just had my front suspension changed in my car which may be partially due to issues on the poor upkeep of roads in the area. I may send the bill into them – wont hold my breath though!

    1. iharrow.com

      I was optimistically hoping it would be cleared by the time I got home from work. Alas, not. However the council can trumpet that it is dealing with these requests in mere moments as ‘closed’ when it actually does bugger all about it. Meanwhile, the stats look great, and earn another award for Lockwood’s trophy cabinet.

      How on earth did we get screwed so badly by this lot? If this was the real world, people would get fired for incompetence, wouldn’t they?

      1. red mirror

        and not just incompetence i harrow gross misconduct goes un punished too .

  2. Vinod

    I agree with you…what use is technology when it has to interface with a person at the council as it means that they have to work! In my experience the web requests dont get acknowledged, assigned a ticket even when it is flagged as urgent and may cause injury. On Tuesday, I put in a request to have the tree damaged path (again!) and logged it. No trouble ticket or acknowledgement. The system is there as a front facing website to show willingness.
    In my case, I get “special” treatment and they ignore my messages and requests, even though they are very serious relating to discrimination and fraud as I get asked to pay “extra’s”.
    My tree issues in particular are embarassing as I predcited in the papers that the two cherry trees would fall as they eventually and we are now owed in excess of £10,000 for the damage that could have been simply avoided.Harrow Council conveniently lose “paperwork” when they see fit. When questioned by councillors and newspaper journalists, they say that they don’t have any records.

    Others I speak to also have the same experience…just look at the twitter feed…330 people complaining and two compliments. What other organisations would tolerate less than 1% approval ratings.

  3. Linda Robinson

    I’m not surprised though, are you? This reflects exactly what tends to happen anyway, whenever one reports something via the website. A while back, I reported a fly tip via MyHarrow account, and a day or two later it showed up as a closed on the system even though nothing had happened and it took weeks to be cleared. Presumably it’s the same system they’re actually using to keep track of things, regardless of what fancy means people use to alert them to problems. Having loads of separate monitoring systems would be nuts.

    Very recently a fly tip was reported by email and by phone, although apparently that’s not allowed. First of all the Harrow officer denied verbally and in writing that the land belonged to the council. Almost unbelievably, for what is very obviously a council owned public open space, the officer concerned had to ask the Land Registry whose property it was, instead of just confirming with his own Parks Department. Only weeks later did a response come from the Land Registry that of course it did indeed belong to the council. Apologies followed, but still no action. The fly tip would still be there now if it hadn’t been cleared by a volunteer.

    You can spend as much time and money as you like developing whizzy apps, but unless someone is doing the work and recording it properly then people like me would rather go back to the days when you could pick up the phone, speak to someone who knew what they were talking about, and know that they would be willing and able to take the required action to sort it out. In the case of a fly tip, that might mean writing the job on a piece of paper, pinning it on a map on the wall and passing it to a crew with a truck. Hey presto, how whizzy was that?

  4. Lisa

    I have this app i reported a fly tip at our flats and they were there the next morning and it was removed , I have also reported other problems on it and has been dealt with promptly so all i can say it worked for me

  5. Someonewhocares

    That’s basically ‘mis-used automation’ for you: We submit a complaint (it does nothing whatsoever to remedy it) then waits a day or so and then re-sets it as ‘cleared’! Worse than that if you complain about this App. it probably does the same thing. Doubt they even read (or care about) the Twitter feed.

    It is simply the Data equivalent of the very ignorant Voice system the Council uses of course…

    1. Someonewhocares

      Furthermore Local Councils are planning to use more IT Apps. in the future:

      You don’t have to read all this but I think we know the answer to the question posed:
      (‘Just use it to ignore us more effortlessly’)

      http://www.ukauthority.com/news/6841/what-can-the-public-sector-do-with-ai

      It’s not all ‘Gloom and Doom’ though, there are ‘Think-tanks’ predicting that by 2030 such Artificial Intelligence systems will mean we have 250,000 less Public Sector workers!

      – Our first response is likely to be “great, less Council/Tax then?” If only….

      Wait… do you think Council Workers are *deliberately* mis-using the ‘Place/Space’ App. in order to protect their jobs by *resisting* such automation? If only….

  6. Wealdstone Warrior

    Vinod – Do you have proof and evidence of reporting these matters to the council? Do you have the evidence of the submissions that have been sent to you by email, when you submit a complaint through the website. If so why are the council denying they have ever received anything from you? This is why I do everything in writing, by email so I have a paper trail. If you do contact them by phone, ask for the name of the person you are speaking to and for a reference number, that should be generated by a system if they are inputting the information into it.

    Linda – I find it quite bizarre the Council do not know what land they own, surely they have records of this without resorting to the Land registry every time there is an issue. The head does not know what the feet are doing in the council, they truly are a shambles.

    For anyone using Apps, do read the terms and conditions before downloading them, they can access quite a lot of information from your phone. I would advise getting a cheap 2nd phone for the purpose of using Apps.

  7. Praxis Reform

    There’s also the excellent alternative FixMyStreet app, which is free, and if I recall correctly, the organization behind it is prepared to brand it for individual councils, for a small fee.

    You also have to wonder why the Harrow Space Place app needs extra identity permissions and permission to use the devices microphone?

    Of course, aside from the waste of developing a completely new app, when one already exists, none of these systems will work unless the council hires people capable of following procedures.

  8. Harrow Dude

    No point having an app that generates extra work if you don’t have the staff/resources to deal with the reports. Perhaps someone should look at other local authorities using this app I would suggest starting in Lambeth.

  9. Shambhu Gupta

    I reported three issues on 26 January 2017. I took photos of fly tipping. I took photo of a dangerousnpavement near a doctors surgery. Except an automatic acknowledgement, nothing has happened. There has been no action. I even the details to the ward Councillors. No action has so far happened after three and half months.


    Harrow Council
    is not working. It is a disgrace.

  10. Terry

    Even better. They close the report you have just made and give the reply as a 7 digit code number as the solution that means absolutely nothing to a layman

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