Kingston campaigners claim victory as council will maintain contact via Twitter

Kingston residents have succeeded in their campaign to prevent the council from changing a key online communication channel.

Kingston Independent Residents Group gathered support for their opposition to removing the @ContactKingston Twitter feed on the website and the council have agreed to extend and promote the service for at least the next six months. 

The council had planned to merge this feed, which residents can use to report issues such as fly tipping, with its main corporate feed @RBKingston, used for general information and promotions, by December.

Helen Hinton, 55, a community activist and member of the Kingston Independent Residents Group who organised the petition, said: “I’ve used it a lot to report litter, potholes and problems, it’s a really good service.”

Helen said that she began using the service two years ago to report fly tipping near her home after failing to get a response lodged through the council’s complaints website which she found ‘impossible to navigate’.

By comparison, she received a swift response and action after reporting the issue via @ContactKingston.

She said: “It’s really good for resident engagement.”

The council outlined plans for the merger with @RBKingston to take place by December as part of efforts to streamline various social media accounts to ‘protect the council’s reputation.’

Community campaigner James Giles said: “Contact Kingston, in my view, is probably the most efficient and effective way of contacting the council.

“The team there do a marvellous job, and where you can be waiting sometimes 30 minutes on the phone, with Contact Kingston I’ve had it reported with a reference number within 15 mins.”

Councillor Jon Tolley, portfolio holder for community engagement at Kingston Council, said: “We value and encourage the ability to report problems and issues to the council via Twitter.

“Councillors didn’t feel it was the right time to change the handle from which this service is delivered, and this part of our social media services will remain unchanged.

“Social media can be a great tool in helping people. We recognise the benefits while also understanding not everyone has the ability or desire to report issues online.”

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