Review seeks boost for online services

Online planning services require "radical improvement" to meet e-government targets, according to a study of local authorities' websites.

The review, carried out by Peter Pendleton & Associates, assessed the online planning services provided by all local authorities in England and Wales. It found that although almost 90 per cent of councils provide e-planning, more than 80 per cent of them fail to meet half of the 21 assessment criteria for online accessibility. The study, published last week, concludes that this level of provision of online information is "unacceptable".

Ian Thompson, chairman of Planning and Regulatory Services Online (PARSOL), one of the national e-government schemes, admitted that although a lot of authorities have websites, only a few are interactive.

"There is money there to put the services online," he stressed. "I'm fairly confident of the chances of meeting the e-targets, but there's still a lot of work to be done."

The capital ranked higher than other regions, with the London Borough of Wandsworth scoring highest in England and Wales. Three authorities failed to meet any of the study's e-planning criteria.

In another survey of local government officers, published by Capita Software Services last week, more than half of the respondents said they do not believe that authorities will meet the targets in time. However, two-thirds believe that their own authority is on track for the 2005 deadline.

National Planning Website Review 2003 can be viewed via www.planning.haynet.com.


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