I know, I know, the headline to this post is pretty unbelievable, but I swear it’s true. For the past 18 months there has been building works going on at a property on my street. I say going on, they actually ground to a halt around 17 months ago due to a lack of planning permission, apparently. But the building-site hoardings remained and have blocked the pavement all this time. So every day for a year or so I have grumbled my way into the middle of the road with the pram, unable to pass safely on the pavement. Never once did I think that I, little old me, had the power to effect change.
Then I discovered this site: www.fixmystreet.com, a kind of Complaints ‘R Us. No pothole too small, no dog turd too big – you can make any complaint you like and they will forward it to the relevant department of your local council, wherever you live in the UK. It’s wonderfully simple, with zoomable maps for adding location markers. I filed my complaint on Jan 24th at 23.25. Exactly four weeks later FixMyStreet emailed me to see if the complaint had been resolved – it hadn’t. But FixMyStreet are no quitters. They then sent me the email addresses of my local councillors, should I want to take the issue further. Caught up in a complaining slipstream I fired off an email. Six days later I had an actual reply from an actual person promising the issue would be sorted by March 20th. And just five days after that was fixed! I am in awe of FixMyStreet.
FixMyStreet.com is one of a whole range of websites created by the people at MySociety.org, including Whatdotheyknow.com, which makes making a freedom of information request easy and FixMyTransport.com, which does what it says on the tin.