Weeknote w/c 30 September: a new website, great progress with Spacebank and ‘looking forward’ to the Royal Parks Half…

It’s the final week before my Royal Parks half marathon run this Sunday. I’m not sure how confident I am that I’ll crack the 2 hour barrier, but I managed a couple of runs into work last week and a decent 20k run on Saturday, so I’m hoping that I’m reasonably well prepared…

There’s still time to sponsor my team for the run. We’re raising funds for Mind so that they can help support positive mental health – it would be great if you could pop a few quid towards our target here! https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=CommunitasTrustRunners&isTeam=true

New website for Hackney

The Big News last week was the launch of the new hackney.gov.uk! It’s been delivered by a surprisingly small team, who’ve punched well above their collective weight, in a surprisingly short amount of time. I’m really chuffed that not only have the team delivered a big improvement in terms of accessibility and usefulness, they’ve also:

  • Used the design work from GOV.UK to help us deliver a big improvement in the user interface and provide a clear foundation for future content that we publish.
  • Moved to a platform (WordPress.com) that will make it easy for us to deliver our content through mobile apps, Alexa skills, voice-activation technology, chatbots or any other digital product that our residents and businesses prefer to use in future.
  • Massively reduced our hosting costs.
  • Used the project as an opportunity to deliver other big improvements for our residents, like the Summer in Hackney map.

As ever with a big piece of work like this, there are still some teething issues to work through, but it’s a fantastic achievement. A massive well done to everyone involved!


I often find myself wishing that I could find more time to spend with the projects that our team are delivering. One project that I’m more closely involved with is Spacebank, one of the manifesto commitments that we’re leading on (https://pipeline.localgov.digital/wiki/156/community-groups-booking-free-or-low-cost-meeting-spaces-hackney-space-bank).

The team working on this have been doing great work to understand the challenges that Hackney residents experience when they try to organise space for meetings and community activity. I think that this a particularly interesting project because of the way that it cuts across different Council services, giving us an opportunity to find new ways to join up the user experience and make things simpler for our residents.

This week saw some particularly good progress for the project, including the conclusion of work to shape the technology that will underpin the next iteration of the project, agreement for next stage funding and a brilliant show & tell where the team shared the work that they’ve been doing with colleagues in Housing to look at community halls provision across Hackney. I was especially pleased that both the Director of Housing and Head of Tenancy & Leasehold Services made time to come along to see what the team have been finding through their work – it’s so important that senior leaders engage at this level of detail and great to see our colleagues in housing doing that.

I also…

  • Had a really positive meeting with HR colleagues and colleagues at partner councils to look at the model we’ve been developing for the updates to our salary supplements (see previous notes). The feedback was very positive and I think we’re heading on the right track.
  • Presented my latest update on our work to the Hackney Management Team. The follow up conversation included really good feedback to the work that the Data & Insight team have been doing with colleagues in children’s services and you can read the full report here: https://blogs.hackney.gov.uk/hackit/autumn-2019-hackit-update
  • Was pleased with the update that Steve brought to our DMT meeting, sharing progress in developing our service’s contracts information and strategic procurement plan. I really appreciate the hard work that’s gone into getting these into good shape..
  • And I responded to quite a few emails asking about our plans for mobile phones…!

Something I’ve learned

One of the apps on my Apple Watch is called Breathe. It’s designed to help you take a pause and step away from the pressures of the day. I think that this is a good idea.

There were a couple of occasions last week when I was reminded how important it is to make sure that we don’t get so caught up with focusing on delivering our work that we forget to make sure that we take a moment to consider the pressures that other colleagues have and what might be behind decisions or actions that feel obstructive. There are few challenges in life which can’t be made worse with impatience or frustration!