Writing to your local councillors

Hello hive mind,

I wrote to Sydenham local councillors(Chris Best and Liam Curran) 10 days ago using the write to them service. I wanted to know whether they could campaign or support a voucher scheme from Lewisham council similar to that of Lambeth, Southwark, Dulwich, Sutton council and it could support some of our environmental concerns. https://www.realnappiesforlondon.org.uk/ and Real Nappies- List of Real Nappy Council Incentives

I got an automatic reply from Cllr Liam Curran(saying he will get reply as soon as he can) and no reply at all from Cllr Chris Best, what is a respectable time to wait before I could follow up with them on this?

Also any advice on how I should follow up on this? I am really new to this and there’s so much nappy litter in Lewisham that it really bothers me. Any help and advice on this matter will be greatly appreciated <3

Thank you!

Doesn’t writetothem.com send some follow-ups to you asking if there was a response? I guess that would be a reasonable timeframe, what ever it is. I’d probably allow 21 days myself, and have generally find directly emailing councillors to be effective.

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You could also put a public question to the next full Council meeting which is on 3rd March. You don’t have to attend (in fact the meetings are on MS Teams at moment anyway) but you do have to submit your question at least 15 days in advance.

Instructions on who to email with your question are here:

If you look up earlier Council meetings via the Council meetings calendar you can download the list of public questions and the Council’s written answers from that meeting as a guide if you would like some idea of how it works. I know there was one on 21st Oct because I got cut off in much the same way as that chappie in Handforth, when I was trying to ask a supplementary question.

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Send them another email to remind them, and if you don’t get a swift response, tweet them another reminder!

There should be two surgeries a month, and lockdown means they’re not happening. They both do MS Teams meetings, so ask for a virtual meeting. The standard surgery slots are 10.30 on the first and third Saturday of the month; the next one is on the 20th. Having said that, given the wait you’ve already had, they ought to fit you in sooner.

Not long until the Sydenham by election for the third councillor. They aren’t up for election, but I think they will find the campaign a bit bruising…

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Thank you @ForestHull @marymck and @jrw. I will try and add my suggestion as a question to the next council meeting and I hope that I can join that one too. Is the council meeting same as surgeries or that is a something completely different? Sorry if this question is too basic, I have never done this sort of thing before :slight_smile: and would love to learn the right way to do things than hitting up some bureacratic wall.

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Hi @anamika sorry for the delay in replying, I’ve only just seen your post.

The Council meetings are different to surgeries. In “normal” times, they’re held at the Civic Suite in Catford. About every 4-6 weeks, if memory serves. Members of the public can submit written questions in advance, to which written answers are supplied (the answers are sometimes of rather dubious quality and sometimes pretty useless, but at least it’s a way of getting something on the public record.)

Once you’ve seen the written answer, which should be emailed to you or you can download from Lewisham’s website (your name - but not your contact details - and your written question are also published) you can decide whether you want to put a supplementary question to the Council during the run of the meeting. You sit in the public gallery and when called upon you’re handed a microphone and go for it. You don’t have to ask a supplementary question if you don’t want to and if you’re not asking a supplementary of course you don’t have to attend.

Because of Covid all the meetings are taking place via MS Teams at the moment. You submit your question at least 15 days in advance of the meeting to the address in the link in my first post on this thread. When the Q&As are published, usually the evening before the Council session, but I think a bit earlier at the moment, then you’ll receive an email with the Q&A doc or a link to it and you’ll be asked if you want to ask a supplementary. Rather annoyingly, the Council are now insisting you submit your supplementary question in advance … which rather takes the fun away.

I think the Council meeting is on 3rd March. So you’d probably have to send your question in on Monday. You can download the last published set of Q&As here, if you want to get an idea of the sort of things that people have been asking:

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Hi Mary, I actually asked a question at the last meeting about the new rules, and having to prewarn them about secondary questions. I spoke to the lovely officer who is dealing with them, who said it had been his idea, and he’d worded it poorly. What was meant was to offer the opportunity to prewarn the council staff, so they have the information ready at the meeting. It isn’t compulsory, and you can still spring questions on them. The wording is being redrafted to make this clear.

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Thanks Julia - that’s really good to know.

@anamika and others who might want to put a question at the full Council meeting of March 3rd, Lewisham say:

The deadline for submission of Council questions is Midnight Tuesday February 16 2021

The public and all members are entitled to ask questions of the Mayor, Cabinet members or any Committee Chair, as long as they are received by my colleagues in the Governance Support Team by the deadline. There is no current limit on the number of questions that can be asked. 30 minutes is reserved at ordinary Council meetings for supplementary questions by members who will receive a written answer to their question the day before the Council meeting. Members asking more than 1 question are asked to prioritise their questions, as questions are answered in the priority order received.

The new preferred email address for submitting Council Questions is:

Councilquestions@lewisham.gov.uk

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I wish I had seen this sooner. I have sat on my email for ages but forgot to send it before deadline. I have done it today. Hopefully, I will be able to get the ball rolling in time for the next meeting at the least.

Thank you @marymck <3

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If it’s too late for the March 3rd meeting - and you’ll get an email from the Council officer who deals with questions either way - you may need to resubmit your question for the next full Council meeting.

But in the meantime, as @jrw suggests, you can put it to the ward Councillors @CllrLiamCurran or @cllrChrisBest via their online surgeries.

Maybe they’ll even see your posts on here.

Good luck :grinning:

I have just had confirmation saying it will be considered for council meeting on March 3rd :partying_face:

I’m chuffed :slight_smile:

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Brilliant! Well done.

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