Technophobia?

At a recent council meeting, Eastleigh Borough Councils new Head of Communications, announced that as part of a revamp of the way the council communicates its ‘good news’ to the borough it will introduce of the use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to get enable Eastleigh residents to hear firsthand what good work the council does and to enable residents to contact and engage with the council.

Concerned that media reporting of all things Eastleigh was often negative and not always in the best interest of EBC, use of new media technology will be encouraged throughout departments to get their message across to the public as previously, communications from the council had been very disorganised and ineffective.

As part of the Eastleigh News team, I for one welcome the idea that Eastleigh Borough Council will now include all media outlets in their communications. All too often, hyper local news services such as Eastleigh News, have had to do battle with press officers and communications officers who have in the past deemed hyper local news reporters as ‘not real journalists’ and have been unwilling to engage with the services we provide to the local community.

However, concerned that these new and emerging internet portals tend to be used in the main by younger members of our community, I wondered how councillors currently use the existing technologies available to them such as email and internet when communicating with Eastleigh residents?

I decided to test our elected councillors on the use of the simplest and oldest electronic communication, email. Composing a simple message to all 44 elected members of EBC, I sent out an email at midnight to see just who would respond within a 24 hour period on a Wednesday. It is important to note that all members have access to computers at home with internet connections to EBC to collect email, many of which are supplied to councillors free of charge by us the tax payer as unreported expenses so that they can receive and communicate by email with residents.

For the test I used Microsoft Outlook email server and enabled both delivery and read receipt requests so that I could see who had read my message.

I received 16 notifications within the 24 hour time limit I had set for the test. Two messages were automated replies telling me that the email could not be read as they had either ‘not had their email setup’ or was ‘unavailable at this time.’ One message informed me that the email address could not be delivered due to a system error at EBC, twelve messages confirming that the email had been received and read by the addressed councillor and one message telling me that my email had been received but had been deleted without even reading it..!!

Sue.Ingram@eastleigh.gov.uk I am currently unable to access emails.

john.caldwell@eastleigh.gov.uk Thank you for your message but my system is not available

desmond.scott@eastleigh.gov.uk Unable to deliver message to the following recipients

alan.broadhurst@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

anne.winstanley@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

steve.holes@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

maureen.sollitt@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

joe.wright@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

keith.day@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

judith.grajewski@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

dave.broughton@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

peter.wall@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

david.goodall@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

trevor.mignot@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

keith.house@eastleigh.gov.uk Read by Councillor

louise.bloom@eastleigh.gov.uk Deleted without being read

  10 comments for “Technophobia?

  1. April 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Whilst this was a very simple test to see if councillors read email sent to them by residents, I was very disappointed by the low number of councillors who had checked their email that was provided to them for both council business and for communication to them by us, the little people who give them our vote. See below for the full list of responses received.

    Two councillors however stand out as exceptional in their use of email as a communication tool. Keith House and Peter Wall, have a good proven track record of giving super fast responses to email they receive and should be noted as good users of communication technology in their roles. Sadly, there are also elected councillors within Eastleigh who have an appalling track record when it comes to electronic communication with residents.

    So as I stated, I welcome the use of these new technologies within our council, my fear however is that most will either not bother with it or do not understand how to use it and before it is rolled out as a main stream form of communication by the council I would hope that all concerned will be given both full training of such and a better understanding of how residents need to be assured that no matter how they contact their council, the communication will be read and responded to in a timely manner.

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      April 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      Do you see what I did there?

      • Matthew Myatt
        April 16, 2011 at 7:30 pm

        Hmmm.!!

  2. Louise Bloom
    April 18, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Dear Matt,
    I can only think YOU do not read YOUR email. I replied to you explaining that as I had an operation on 25th Feb I had been off sick and not reading my email. However I saw yours during a catch up and you should have got my out of offcie message, if you didn’t I don’t know why. My EBC mail went through to my personal email where I deleted your message unread as I had already read it, as I explained to you! As all Grange Park residents and others know, generally I read my email every evening. I do not read it during the working day as I also have a full time job. I am very happy to receive criticism but not be lied about.

    • Matthew Myatt
      April 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

      No ‘Out of Office’ response was received from your EBC email. The only response was that my email was ‘deleted without being read’ followed a day later by a email from your non EBC email proportioning to be a read receipt for my first email but was in fact nothing of the sort.

      No lies, just fact.!!

      As for me checking my email, well I pay for my computer, email server and Internet connection. It is not a service provided to me for free by the tax payer to do my job councilor.

      I accept that in the past you have responded in a timely manner to my email I have sent but clearly something has gone very wrong in this case and I would suggest you speak to the IT guys at EBC who will be able to track the email I first sent out and explain WHY no ‘Auto Response’ was sent out.

      Perhaps then you could let us know via this site.

  3. easy peasy
    April 18, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Emailgate

  4. Louise Bloom
    April 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I told you I had read your email, you clearly stated I had not. That is your choice, mine is to make it clear I did. Incidentally there may be a wide range of reasons councillors don’t reply within 24 hours, sickness (I didn’t do any email for 6 weeks) holiday or just very busy. The electorate in each ward can decide if their councillor responds quick enough or not.

    • Botley Bloke
      April 18, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      Rattled her cage then… good.
      Bet she been out canvassing.

      They don’t like it up em! The Lib Dems that is.

      My advice to her id watch out for tent guy ropes!!

  5. James Wooton, Hedge End
    April 18, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    First councillor I have come across that could not read emails because she had hurt and had an operation on her…… FOOT.!!

    Yes, that really can affect your ability to read email, but not to post bloody leaflets through my door.!!

  6. April 18, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    I told you I had read your email, you clearly stated I had not. That is your choice, mine is to make it clear I did. Incidentally there may be a wide range of reasons councillors don’t reply within 24 hours, sickness (I didn’t do any email for 6 weeks) holiday or just very busy. The electorate in each ward can decide if their councillor responds quick enough or not.

    So your NOT going to check with IT department at EBC as to what went wrong with your automated response and why your EBC email deletes it own messages without you knowing it…??

    Your not going to tell us what they conclude on this site either…??

    I wonder why..!!

    Yes, I am sure the people of Hedge End, yes I said people and not electorate as some can not vote yet but are still subject to the polices your party forces on them, WILL be able to decide who best serves their needs come May.

    Like me, I am sure you too are just dieing to know how they really feel. However, as your are not up for election this time round perhaps we will not find out for sure.

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