Cracks are showing in land registry system

The National Land Information Service (NLIS) has been a trailblazing e-government project.

The National Land Information Service (NLIS) has been a trailblazing e-government project.

A joint initiative between central and local government, it aims to provide an online one-stop shop for property conveyancing across England and Wales. It is also widely viewed as a litmus test for delivering efficient and useful services to the public via the Web.

Leaders of the project claim that because speedy property searches through NLIS will eventually take just minutes, it will help to end gazumping in the property market.

Crucially, however, NLIS is to use the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG) as its property index for pay-as-you-go searches.

The NLPG will form the foundation for e-government services. Unless central and local government have a definitive record of a citizen's property and address, the whole business of delivering services online is a joke.

There are now serious concerns over the progress and direction of these two interlinked projects.

So far only about 125 out of 452 local authorities in England and Wales have created their own local land and property gazetteers and been connected to the NLPG. Computer Weekly this week also reveals concerns over the accuracy of address data in the NLPG.

Local government leaders and suppliers driving the project claim that it is already delivering results. They also add that it is a long-term project that will take years to roll out.

Fair points. But the cracks are beginning to widen in this far-reaching project and now is the time to review its progress.

The NLPG project leaders also need to explain more clearly the safeguards in place for upholding on an ongoing basis the quality of address data stored and updated in their national database.

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