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Better Connected programme update – 11 May 2018

Fri 11 May 2018
Vicky Sargent

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Find out about Local Plan – appalling use of maps!

Reviewers of this year’s planning survey, Find out about Local Plan called out some ‘really terrible’ and ‘appalling’ uses of maps in presentation of councils’ Local Plans. Too many sites linked to extremely technical GIS systems with highly complicated and (to the layperson) meaningless filters. Just over a third of sites reviewed (English and NI districts) were found to have ‘easy-to-use maps showing locations of key aspects the local plan of interest to residents eg housing allocations, industrial/economic development, flood and conservation areas.’ Take note unitary councils, this survey is likely to be repeated next year! Find your result via the councils’ index page and the ‘all council’ report here.

How did you report the local election results on your website?

There is much variation in the presentation of local election results on council websites, much to the frustration of citizens who are interested in local democracy. In the past, it has also been very difficult to access online the national picture emerging soon after results are declared. As flagged in the last BC programme update, a map of ‘before’ and ‘after’ overall political control resulting from the May 3rd local elections has now been made freely available online, on the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) website. Read this article about how this seemingly simple outcome has been achieved, and how, if councils would only open up their election data, publishing local and national results would become so much easier.

Find out about roadworks results

Results of our survey ‘Find out about roadworks’ were published on April 27. The survey covered English, Scottish and Welsh unitary councils and found that 70% provide a good or very good service. The overall result masks significant differences between the performance of Scottish councils with 84% scoring three or four stars but only 73% of English councils and just 27% of Welsh councils. A key factor in the improved presentation of roadworks online is re-use by councils of the national site from Elgin. Shane O’Neil, Elgin’s chair will be speaking at Local government and the digital citizen on 27 June. the roadworks report linked from

Timetable for remaining surveys

Find childcare is now complete, as is the survey Report streetlight failure. Apply for landlord licence is nearly done. All will be reported in the next two to three weeks. Accessibility testing has been completed and is in QA, ready for publication to finish the BC cycle for this year, along with the results of our new combined Search/navigation/A-Z/mobile test (supported by Zengenti). We expect all results to be out and overall star rankings to be published by 8 June latest, and if possible before.

27 June in London: Local Government and the digital citizen

Catch up with peers and experts to take stock of where development of digital services is headed. In a series of sessions we will review the quality of the current citizen experience and future provision by key sectors like waste and recycling, social care, planning, and housing. We will look at cross cutting issues like customer accounts, identity and registration, the role of data, open data, AI and robotics, and the implications of Whitehall-delivered applications for services provided locally, like voter registration and blue badges. Find more details and updates here. Places will be strictly limited (event organisers always say that, but we mean it!), so book your place now.

25 September in Birmingham: Council websites and the digital citizen

This event is particularly for people who use the Better Connected programme to support and drive improvement in the customer experience of their websites. The programme will include feedback from the 2017/18 surveys as well as presentations and discussions on cross cutting themes such as usability, accessibility, customer engagement, and website usage. The day will also include content to help councils prepare for Better Connected 2018/19. Join us if you work in web and digital management, customer services, IT/digital management, and digital transformation. Web professionals attached to key service areas like social care may also find the day useful. We will publish the programme and booking arrangements soon, but email if you would like to register interest now.

New accessibility requirements for public sector websites and apps

New requirements for public sector bodies to make websites and mobile apps accessible to all users will come into force over the next three years. For new websites (published after 23 September 2018) these will apply from 23 September 2019, for existing websites from 23 September 2020, and for mobile apps from 23 June 2021. There will be government checks to make sure that websites and apps follow the rules, but no details about these are available yet. Better Connected is in close touch with the GDS accessibility team on this topic and will bring you information as it becomes available. Meanwhile you should read the page published a couple of days ago on GOV.UK.

Finally……BC Awards and 3 and 4 star logos

We introduced BC awards in 2016 and ran them again in 2017. We’d like to know if Better Connected users think these are helpful. Unlike many ‘best website’ awards, ours are based on pretty exhaustive evidence gathering rather that winning at getting your friends/contacts/suppliers to vote for you on social media. Past winners tell us that getting an award is a sure fire way to get chief execs and others in the SMT to take notice and even allocate more budget (do we call that shutting-the-stable-door-when-the-horse-has-trotted-in?). Where councils come to collect awards at our events, eg the forthcoming Council websites and the digital citizen (25 September) there are associated photo (and likely video) opportunities. Please contact and tell us what you think. Same goes for the 3 and 4 star logos, although there is little organisational effort involved in providing those so it's a no brainer for us.

Enquiries: email or contact Vicky Sargent, Programme Director, Better Connected via



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