Archive | March, 2014

Tony Benn’s coffin is carried into St Margaret’s Church, Westminster

27 Mar

2014-03-27 10.57.24 HDR-2
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Whitehall Gardens

26 Mar

2014-03-26 07.48.01

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Love Newham?

17 Mar

Why would you build an app like this:


When your mobile website looks like this:


Apps are all well and good, but you need to build different versions for different phones – iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and so on. A properly designed mobile website will work on all phones, plus tablets (the Love Newham app is only designed for phones), and doesn’t require citizens to go through the extra steps of visiting an app store, signing in (assuming you already have an account – if you don’t setting one up is another step), downloading and installing. They just work.

And they provide access to the full range of online council services.

But if people really want a dedicated app for reporting problems, why not simply point them to MySociety’s FixMyStreet app? Point 2 of the Government Digital Service’s design principles says it best: do less. If someone else is doing it — link to it.

I don’t know who’s advising Newham council on digital strategy, but if it was me I’d put developing a mobile version of the website a long, long way ahead of building an app.

Blue sky, London Eye

10 Mar

2014-03-10 07.28.20
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Albert Rose by any other name…

5 Mar

I’ve written before about the slapdash attitude of the mayor and his councillors towards record-keeping and accountability. In particular about the register of interests.

This is a significant public document: it’s how we can tell if our elected representatives are looking after our best interests or theirs. If it’s not accurate or kept up-to-date we can’t know.

So it’s troubling to discover another example of an inaccurate declaration.

Councillor Ayesha Chowdhury has represented Beckton ward since 2002 and is currently the ‘lead community councillor’ for the area. Councillor Chowdhury owns (or co-owns) a large number of residential properties in the borough, from which she derives income from rent. In June 2006 she added to her declaration of interests a property at ’39 Albert Rose Close, E6.’

In January 2008 the spelling was changed to ’39 Albert Roase Close, E6’. And it has remained on the Register ever since.

But there is no Albert Rose (or Roase) Close in E6. Or in Newham. Or London for that matter.

In fact, there is no street of that name anywhere in the United Kingdom.

Presumably Ayesha Chowdhury knows how many houses and flats she owns. One of them must correspond to the Albert Rose Close entry in the register of interests, but it’s actual location is hidden. The net effect is that she has an undeclared property interest.

So if the councillor sits on a planning committee, or a licensing committee, or in full council and considers a proposal that affects her interest in this property we won’t know about it. We won’t know if she’s voting for her constituents or herself.

Ayesha Chowdhury is plainly a talented business person; she’s built up and now manages a substantial property portfolio and rental business. That requires considerable organisational skills. So it’s a mystery as to why she hasn’t – in 8 long years – made sure the list on the register of interests is correct.

As a member of the council’s Standards Advisory Committee she should know better.


Following the election in May Councillor Chowdhury has updated her register of interests. The property in question is now listed as ’39 Albertross Close’.

There is no ‘Albertross Close’ in Newham, but there is an Albatross Close. Number 39 is a leasehold flat.

View from my window

5 Mar

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