Wolverhampton develops online forums to boost customer feedback

City council targets consultation savings with web-based system

Wolverhampton City Council is hosting online forums where people can suggest to council officers how services should be improved.

The council hopes the forums will reduce its expenditure on consultation by providing a cheap method for getting the public's views. The forums are open to anyone who lives, works or socialises in Wolverhampton.

People who post on the forums - a group that the council calls its e-panel - are able to write about any of the public services delivered in the city.

The council is part of a local service partnership, so citizens can also use the forums to share information about services delivered by the local primary care trust, the police, Jobcentre Plus, the college and the University of Wolverhampton.

The council hopes to save money by reducing the amount of duplication during its consultations. People are now posting their views on the forums rather than responding to each consultation published by the council or one of its public sector partners individually.

Wolverhampton received funding for its e-forums project from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Local E-Democracy national project. The project funding followed an earlier trial paid for by the European Union.

The e-forums also enable people working in different public sector agencies to collaborate on projects and share information.

Wolverhampton City Council's IT projects

  • Wolverhampton City Council is reviewing the asset management software it uses to maintain the city's highways. The applications used to maintain the assets - estimated by the council to have a replacement value of £700m - are unsupportable going forward and are to be replaced by a packaged system.
  • The systems used by the council's waste management services are changing following a decision to contract out the function earlier this year.
  • The council's IT department is developing an electronic single-assessment process for social services departments and local NHS trusts.
  • Wolverhampton City Council is one of 12 local authorities using a customer relationship management application developed by the London Borough of Newham. It uses Microsoft's Biztalk Server 2004 to integrate functions.

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