Along with other London bloggers I was invited to a meeting today organised
by OFCOM and The London Civic Forum to discuss the impact and influence of
websites such as this one on the local community and borough authorities. It was
gratifying that so many of the attendees had seen Bexley-is-Bonkers and
remembered its name, probably because it is catchier than some. The conference
leader told me it was one of his top two interesting sites but I rather suspect
he may have said that to everyone. Much of the day long discussions were taken
up with how to run and moderate on-line discussion forums and how to subdue belligerent
political activists, none of which applies here because I decided I didnt have
sufficient free time to manage a forum; however todays comments suggest I may
have been over-cautious.
Perhaps the most interesting session was about the rôle of local websites within the governments Big Society agenda. It is possible that the governments interest comes from getting volunteers to spread the word at little or no cost. A number of examples were provided of councils refusing to play ball with the Coalitions plan, all Labour controlled apparently, but no one produced an example of any council of any political persuasion actually co-operating. They still dont accept that monetary cuts may compel them to relinquish some of their powers and give up what was referred to as tribal tendencies. It is fair to say that not a word was spoken in praise of any local authority for the whole day; indeed it was said that some had offered monetary inducements to bloggers to influence their output.
The six additional photographs in the gallery are pure self-indulgence on my part. From 1966 to 1968 I worked in the very same room as todays meeting when Riverside House (OFCOMs H.Q.) was a Civil Service building occupied by G.P.O. Telephones. I enjoyed the glorious views over the river and the city but by comparison with the decor provided for OFCOM, the G.P.O. was drab and dirty.