Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Castlereagh Council to go public!

Castlereagh Borough Council logo

It seems that Castlereagh Borough Council, some of whose members are normally so reluctant to make meetings and minutes public, are about to join the vast majority of other local councils in Northern Ireland and start to publish their minutes online.

This morning’s Belfast Telegraph brought the news that Castlereagh’s full council meeting in February approved the decision by its Central Services Committee to start “to publish minutes from all council meetings on its website from this week”. They’ll finally be bringing their practice in line with the advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The paper's article noted that “Castlereagh Council will back date minutes on its website for the current electoral term, making them available from 2005”.

Castlereagh’s website only merited a single star in the recent Socitm Insight survey of council websites. Belfast City Council was awarded three stars; Coleraine Borough Council picked up two stars.

But of the 24 local councils in NI that scored one star, Socitm rated Castlereagh’s website joint bottom.

Their team of reviewers pointed to a “lack of customer focussed content” and that “it would be good to … have some online forms etc”. They “couldn't find an events calendar or councillor's allowances/expenses”. But perhaps most importantly, “No search facility found” … “Add a search facility”.

Even with the addition of online minutes, Castlereagh may have some distance to go to get off the bottom of the table in next year’s survey.

1 comment:

Gonzo said...

The Council sent this out today, 16th March 2010

At the February meeting of Castlereagh Borough Council, a procedure was approved to allow all ratified minutes of Council, its Boards, Committees and Sub-Committees to be placed on the Council’s website. Officers were also asked to investigate the practices in other Councils regarding the publication of commercially sensitive information and ‘Staff in Committee’ items. It is anticipated that these issues will be ratified by full Council on 25 March 2010.

Substantial work has already been undertaken to progress this matter and minutes will be transferred onto the Council’s official website as soon as practicably possible