Council Websites WITBI

Carl has an interesting post about the “perfect council website”, in which he asks:

How can you explain to politicians that nobody cares about them on the website?

I’d say that if Lewisham’s website is anything to go by, then surely most of the politicians know that the council’s already come to that conclusion.

The answer is surely to tell them to get out there and make their own websites that do interest the public.

But, and here’s the rub, councils then ought to do much more to promote what their politicians are saying and doing. That’s not just what the executive are about, but what the scrutiny committes are up to, what councillors do in their wards, and the debates that happen in council.

It’s up to the councillors to provide decent content, but the council should be able to find ways of drawing attention to what they’re about.

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About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
This entry was posted in Civic Society, Lewisham's Politicians. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Council Websites WITBI

  1. Max says:

    I feel Lewisham Council’s website has gone backwards recently for what regards the meetings’ calendar and the relative papers.
    We’re having papers routinely missing now.
    Where have all the questions asked at Council?
    The pages for the last two Council meetings both lack them. Questions from Members and questions from the public.
    On 30th June a motion was amended and then approved amended, where’s the amendment?

    True, communication has many aspects, but these are core deliveries.

  2. lovelewisham says:

    I think the days of the council website are numbered. The transactional stuff should be available at a higher level. Nobody really wants to bother with the council site, just how to get things done, or to find out things..

  3. Max says:

    As it is now only a highly motivated person would chose to waste time looking for what they need. I spent quite a lot of time there so I can find my way but it’s a labirintic place, I still lose myself there.

    Basically it’s doing the opposite of what Tim Berners-Lee would do.
    Its search it’s so poor that it can be now classified as fake. Papers are missing. Everything is hard to find. No surprise people stop bothering.
    Only the planning bit is up to the job. All else need re-doing.

    Who’s responsible for it? It should be customer services I think. Just wake up won’t you?

  4. Brian Robson says:

    I don’t know if you’ve read the Demos report on trust in Councils – http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/stateoftrust – some of the fieldwork was done in Lewisham.

    One of their findings was that restoring trust in Councils will require personal relationships between citizens and ‘the council’ and that local Councillors are uniquely placed to deliver this. If that’s the case it’s a shame the Council won’t link directly to Councillors’ websites or promote their work more.

    Maybe Nigel’s got a point – people will go to planningalerts or fixmystreet rather than their own Council’s site. But maybe there’s also a role for a more local website (or an area of the borough website) led by ward councillors which brings things together at a neighbourhood level in the way a borough-wide website can’t. That’s certainly what I’ve been trying to achieve with mine.

    Max – it’s true that all the stuff’s up there on the planning website but it’s not exactly intuitive to use for your average resident who’s interested in a one-off application over the road to them. The useful features are several layers down and I think many people give up trying.

  5. lovelewisham says:

    “people will go to planningalerts or fixmystreet rather than their own Council’s site”.. yes I think that’s the kind of thing. but interestingly, 142 people reported jobs on fixmystreet for Lewisham compared to 2869 from Lovelewisham (from the public, 23,000 in total, including reports from Mebers & officers, which is more that all the jobs reported on fixmystreet for the entire country!)

  6. Andrew Brown says:

    Well we always knew that Love Lewisham was a winner, didn’t we.

  7. Andrew Brown says:

    Brian, yes I’d noted Demos’s interest earlier, but don’t think I caught up with the final product, so thanks for the tip.

  8. lovelewisham says:

    I’ve got a good idea to share with you Andrew. Hope to be able to come to your Lewisham Blogger meet-up (not that I’m really elible for the title of ‘blogger’, all the things I’d lik to post are just the kind of things I shouldn’t!!)

  9. Andrew Brown says:

    Excellent, it’ll be lovely to see you there.

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