Sunday, 17 February 2013

No casework for a year?

Ben ruined my idea for a blog post! I have in the past been quite critical of Mr Gummer for certain administrative tasks – the delay in opening an office in the town and the delay in getting a website up.

One excuse given for the delay in getting a web presence was that he wanted to get it right rather than rush in and the other positive mentioned was that the website would not be paid for by the taxpayer.

When the website went live it (like most MP’s now) gave a link to data on his expenses plus a link to a video clip of every time Ben spoke in Westminster.
One extra piece of information Mr Gummer offered was a record of his performance when it comes to casework. It was this part of our MPs website that was going to be the subject of my blog post.

Mr Gummer introduced the section on his performance date with these fine words:

“I receive hundreds of requests for help and for information every week. Although it is sometimes difficult to give a quick answer, I try to give as prompt a service as possible to all my constituents. I think it is important that you can see how efficiently I am dealing with queries.

So, every week we will update you on the maximum amount of time it takes me to respond to your queries. In time I would like to provide more information on the performance of my office, so you can properly hold me to account. I am the first MP to publish this data”

But as you can see there is not data on the site – here.

But up to last week there was data on the site, but it indicated that no casework had been undertaken since February 2012! Now I know that is wrong as I have spoken to a number of residents who have had or are having casework dealt with by Mr Gummer. This is not the only part of Mr Gummer’s website that is woefully out of date, according to the site he has not spoken in Parliament since January 2012.

Now you might say why should we be bothered when the website is not costing the taxpayer any money, well it is getting some updates including pictures of ‘Ben in the Pub’ and I would expect that work is being done by staff who are paid by us – the taxpayer and I would not be concerned if the website was paid for out of Mr Gummer’s allowances if the site was up to date and gave out relevant information.

Now some of you may think why I have not taken up this matter with Mr Gummer directly, but unfortunately our MP is not replying to my emails. I had contacted him to ask why he had blocked me on twitter. I have not been rude to Mr Gummer through social media and know we do not agree on many topics but I have enjoyed debating with Mr Gummer via twitter. I also think that twitter is a good way for residents to find out what their MP is up to or what his views are on national topics and for the MP to gauge the thoughts and concerns of residents, councillors and those in commerce in his constituency. Twitter should not just be a one way form of communication.

A concern for me now is that if a constituent approaches me with some casework that would be better dealt with by our MP – I will not be sure that any email communication that I submit will be read by Mr Gummer. If I do get any casework that needs my MP's support I would phone his office or post it but I do not think it asking for much to receive a reply to my emails - even if just to say that he would continue to block me on twitter.

So I would suggest Mr Gummer either keeps his website up to date, or removes the sections that show it is woefully behind the times.


Anonymous said...

Maybe you should spend less time on your blog and more time helping your constituents?

Alasdair Ross said...

I posted your comment even though you have not put your name to it.
I do work hard for my constituents and just see social media as a way of getting messages across.
I do my blogs in my spare time and unlike Mr Gummer I do not have paid (or unpaid interns)office staff to do the work - or not do it in the case of Mr Gummer's website.

Nadia Cenci said...

Oh Councillor Ross. Here you go again writing away freely without checking your facts or giving anybody a chance to respond to your concerns before putting finger to keyboard.
First of all, at the beginning of each year, namely January, the case details are wiped clean, so therefore there will be no data for 2012 for you to view. The site is not tax funded so requires payment to bring it up to date and this is done when it can be. In fact there are volunteers also to keep some of the site up to date. Perhaps you should have a new motto ' Look, Check, engage Brain'

Alasdair Ross said...

No data on casework had been posted since February 2012 - Mr Gummer made a promise that he would put the data up- I understand that it became difficult and would be happy if he had just said that. But data wiped clean in January is not an excuse as no information had been posted for 10 months up to the end of 2012.

I understand that the website is not paid for by the taxpayer- but he has staff posting pictures of him on the site plus his latest meetings so I am sure the site can be updated, and some of those staff may be paid for by the taxpayer.
So maybe you should check before putting comments like 'the case details are wiped clean'
So the facts have been checked.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want any case work Ben is doing for me on the internet anyway.