Birmingham, B29

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

New council website - and some free exercise

posted by pindec
confusing error of the dayBirmingham City Council has finally launched its new website after a serious delay (originally due March 06) and a bit of a row about the £2.8m cost. Frankly, after that delay and that much cash, it's hard not to be underwhelmed.

It still looks old-fashioned, there's a few missing sections (did they not manage to run a link checker before pushing that big red button?) and they have failed to take the opportunity to seriously upgrade the services and information offered. My biggest gripe about the site (and Council in general) is its lack of transparency: it's hard to find out what's happening and when and who to talk to about changing anything, and it doesn't look like the new site offers anything different in these areas. Currently both the Council meetings and "Democracy in Birmingham" pages are broken,both linked to from the Democracy index, which promises "Decisions are published here on a daily basis, with easy access to agendas and reports". The only link to reports is in theory from 2003-4 (though the link is just http://old.birmingham.gov.uk/ which I can't imagine is really supposed to just give results for democracy from 2003-4), which gives ... no results.

One other irritating omission - the Council recently launched a scheme to make gym and swimming free to local residents, but you can't find out more info on the site - gym4free's broken [UPDATE: it's now working] and the swim4free page doesn't mention it. Is it a secret? If you're interested, here's the information from Google's cache (ignore the Heart of Birmingham PCT trust link because that implies only their residents qualify). You'll need a Leisure Card (again, that's the cached version of the page), but don't try applying online - it's not currently working :(.

UPDATE: looks like all the online forms are currently borked, so you won't be able to pay your council tax online either ....

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