Survey shows rise in councils' Internet contacts with voters

The range of Internet services provided by local authorities is on the rise, according to the latest survey from the Society of...

The range of Internet services provided by local authorities is on the rise, according to the latest survey from the Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm).

James Rogers

The range of Internet services provided by local authorities is on the rise, according to the latest survey from the Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm).

Research reveals that 95% of the UK's 467 local authorities now have web sites, compared with 86% 12 months ago.

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council is also singled out as the first authority with a properly "transactional" Web site, giving local residents the opportunity to pay council tax, business rates and car park fines over the Internet.

Nicola Smith, Webmaster at Tameside, said, "This is very rewarding and it's nice to know that we're going in the right direction.

"Morale in the IT department is definitely high at the moment," she added.

The survey identified 10 other authorities where residents can pay council tax online and 26 where they can renew library books via the Internet.

Martin Greenwood, programme manager at Socitm's Mapit service, which compiled the survey, commented, "There is no room now for the enthusiastic amateur.

"The web site is central to the Government's e-strategy because a substantial section of the public expects it as a matter of course.

"Our research has found significant improvements but there is still much to do if web sites are to become fully transactional."

Socitm's survey also revealed that a "digital divide" is emerging as shire counties and London boroughs pull ahead of other authorities in terms of developing online services.

Greenwood said, "Shire counties are probably the most mature part of the local authorities in terms of investing in technology.

"London boroughs also tend to be better than, say, metropolitan boroughs in the north because there is more Internet access in the capital."

Greenwood added, "I think that it is only a matter of time before the other authorities catch up."

james.rogers@rbi.co.uk

This was last published in March 2001

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