Local authority chiefs call for London-wide e-strategy

Representatives from London's local authorities met last week to push forward an e-strategy for the capital.

Representatives from London's local authorities met last week to push forward an e-strategy for the capital.

Hassan Mahamdallie

The London Connects conference, held on 1 March, launched a draft prospectus that envisages the "development of a vigorous e-economy for the capital", but mayor for Lewisham Dave Sullivan also called for "some quick wins" and "concrete small things we can get off the ground".

London Connects has the blessing of the Greater London Authority. Its e-envoy Valerie Shawcross said London Connects should be used by the capital's 32 local authorities "to present a united front" for influence and for "harmonising London's response to the Government's e-agenda".

Shawcross appealed for more participation by local authorities and private sector partners in London Connects, which was launched last October.

The creation of a London portal could be, in the words of conference chair Steve Palmer, "a definitive site for London".

Palmer, who is head of ICT in the west London borough of Hillingdon, admitted that he did not know what a London Portal would look like, but that "we need to look at methods of joining up services".

However, the difficulties that confront local authorities was spelled out by Janice Morphet from the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions' (DETR) local government modernisation team. She painted a bleak picture of existing local authority e-delivery.

Morphet said, "There is a challenge to us to provide a higher service across London. We have a lot to learn from each other and we are not doing as much of that as we would like. It should not need someone like me to come round with this comment."

She announced the completion of a DETR survey into London council Web sites which was due to be sent to the capital's local authority chief executives this week.

Although she insisted that the survey was not "a naming and shaming exercise", Morphet told the conference delegates that "some of your Web sites are not very up to date".

She pointed out that "only in nine authorities can you e-mail a councillor".

Bernard Diamant, deputy chief executive of Brent, said, "We are only just agreeing our agenda. We are looking for people to say what is right or wrong. Local authorities don't have a history of co-operating.

"We have got to get the issue on the chief executive officers' agenda. I am sure we could deliver a London portal that links to existing Web sites in six months, not longer than a year," Diamant added.

In addition to local and central government speakers, there were contributions from the London region of the NHS Executive, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police, London Libraries and the London Grid for Learning.


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