Haringey Council Website £2million and counting…

It recently came to light that Haringey Council has spent practically the highest amount in the whole country on its website. The Telegraph newspaper released the information showing that Haringey spent over £500,000 on a website redesign in 2003 and together with running costs since – have spent over £2million.

Blimey! for that amount of money you would expect the best looking and easiest to navigate site in the land!

This over the top expenditure demonstrates just why the Council is facing a £10million budget black hole of its own making this year. And yes – it’s not going to get easier with a funding squeeze from central government – so the ability to commission projects of good quality and deliver value for money – is even more crucial.

The other issue of key concern about this (other than they was robbed) is that it is yet another example of the Labour run administration spending more than most other Councils. My LibDem colleague, Robert Gorrie, Leader of the LibDem group on Haringey Council has highlighted the need for the Council to prioritise front-line services over website expenditure.

Robert said:

“Haringey is top of a league table – but for all the wrong reasons. Communication through websites and the opportunity for residents to engage with the Council online is important, but spending £200,000 of taxpayers’ money on a website every year, especially when there is good evidence of better value elsewhere, needs to be challenged.

“At a time of extreme financial pressure money must be prioritised on front-line services which tangibly benefit residents and not wasted on projects with little direct influence on people’s lives.

“The only specific cut identified so far is the web casting of Council meetings. I wonder if that is because there is evidence no-one watches them or because Haringey Labour is embarrassed by what they show of the nature of their administration.”

True say Cllr Gorrie!

0 thoughts on “Haringey Council Website £2million and counting…

  1. Haringey can probably point to reduced numbers of avoidable contacts (phone calls) reduced print costs and a host of other benefits Fromm implementing e-govt technologies of which the web site is only one part.

    From my experience of working with nearly 100 local authorities I doubt that the categorisation of costs is consistent enough across all authorities to make meaningful comparisons. If as Robert Gorrie suggests there are examples of better practice where councils are spending less than £200,000 per year could you or he please post links to substantiate that claim and so that others can learn from these successes.

    Are you perhaps too eager to criticise the council because of it’s leadership?

    I look forward to an occasion when you will feel able to congratulate the Labour led council for something they have achieved for the residents of Haringey without claiming credit for a LibDem campaign

  2. Hi Lynne

    You sound as if you’re gloating at the costs whatever they may be, you don’t seem to be adhering to the ‘new politics’ that the LibDems are always demanding when criticised.

    Anyway, I think most of us are more worried about your repudiation of the social settlement, the destruction of the NHS in favour of private commissioning systems, your unusually swift introduction of the free schools ideology at a time of cuts and your volte face on the surveillance state. There are of course many things but these are the main areas.

    I always thought you were a good MP and I had a lot of respect for you, now however, I’m left baffled. Why are you so happy to support this over-zealous, ideological and sleazy Conservative administration that simply is anything but fair or progressive?

    Going back to the subject of the blog, perhaps Sir Phillip Green tell us all where they’re going wrong.

  3. I love you quoting the Telegraph Lynne first because it is a right wing Tory newspaper that people tell me can’t stand you even though you are its expenses angel 2005 to 2010 (except for stationery) and second because they brought down the born to do it David Laws. Remember him?

    Keep it coming. There is little doubt that the Lib Dems are a shoe in for the council next time round here with all your able assistance.

    Still at least you have answered in a small way a question I have repeatedly asked you which is what the council should cut? All you can come up with is the website. Telephone answering at the council next?

  4. Since its now (carried over from Labour’s announcement last autumn) govt policy to make more services available online and do it better, a knee jerk reaction simply on the basis of total spend isn’t worthy of this Coalition.

    Webcasting of Council meetings is important, but should not cost a great deal of money, so let us please see a breakdown of what this reported £200K p.a. is being spent on. You should, Lynne, be able to get Cabinet Office to do the analysis for you.

  5. Websites are a really good way of communication and all public sector organisations must have one, individuals who produce websites have made a fortune on designing them and I think that is now coming to an end,. There has to be a realistic price for a website, the skill and the understanding of technology is important but there has to be a reasonable cost for this.

  6. I often use the haringey website for information etc and it’s a very good site. Not what you want to hear of course Lynne, but there it is – ‘Haringey resident satisfied with Haringey service.’
    Just stop this carping, I’m embarrassed for you.

  7. @ angie

    Unfortunately Lynne does not do embarassed any more than she does balanced so let’s make sure that we as voters in her constituency kick her firmly out as soon as we get the chance.

    Let’s remember that they came into this with a promise of new politics and most of all a drive for PR. We now know that even if they fail to get a positive vote on AV next year when their coalition partners campaign against it they will still not separate themselves from the salivating right wing ideology of the likes of Osbourne and Redwood.

    Lynne now relies firmly on collective cabinet responsibility for not giving any views on anything of any substance though of course they may well simply amount to the weird neural impulses of many of her past posts.

    If you live in Wood Green and Hornsey and you voted for Lynne then next time if your views more nearly reflect Labour policy then vote Labour. If your views more nearly reflect Conservative policy then vote Conservative. Either way at least you will have some idea what you might be getting and we will see the back of the smug self-satisified likes of Clegg and the frankly vicious local politics of Featherstone.

  8. Lynne, you are absolutely right. Haringey is profligate with its spending as always. In the past they could always jack up the council tax to pay for their latest PR exercise. I’m with you that this abuse of resident’s money must stop but knowing the obstinacy of this council I wouldn’t hold out much hope that it will be any time soon.

  9. According to the FT (that famous left-wing rag), research by Professor John Hills, from the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, has shown how cash poured into public spending in the decade to 2007 offset rising income inequality.

    He concludes “The choice between general tax increases and general spending cuts has huge distributional effects,” said Prof Hills. “It is rather hard to see how one can make huge spending cuts and still describe the Budget as progressive.”

    My feeling, Lynne, is that you should all just declare yourselves Tories and stop bothering with the words ‘progressive’ and ‘fair/fairness’. You have proved that coalition government in this country is a nightmare when your leader is either too weak to act like an effective coalition partner (see Germany/Israel/now maybe Australia) or was just simply misleading the electorate all the way through.

    Anyway, back to the council’s website spend….. hmmmmm, maybe a job for your new chum Michael Ashcroft, he seems to have a passion for political websites, he’ll sort ’em out.

  10. Comparability seems to be the crucial point here. Could it be that some Haringey council departments are adding their lengthy and regular input-costs to the website total, under “maintenance”, rather than bearing them themselves, out of their publicity budget ?

    We need to know.Perhaps Cllr Gorrie can raise this point? And perhaps Adam needs to see that his school is running smoothly, before taking on the cares of the whole council? Shoe-in it certainly won’t be……

  11. The school my children go to runs really well thanks. Bizarrely it is the responsibility of er um Haringey council and has a superb head teacher and staff.

    Of course whether that remains the case once Lynne, John and their mates have slashed its budget, got rid of school meals and sacked all of the teaching assistants will be of some interest.

    By the way I have mentioned before that I am not crazy about Haringey council but I am not prepared to be part of slagging it off carte blanche (particularly its staff) and blaming it for all the woes of the world as Lynne does.

    I note even Clegg thinks the LD’s are doomed. He thinks it’s a mid term blip. Yeah right Nick and you won’t support a VAT rise.

  12. Jamal

    Not sure that a retro mapping site really is the answer to council’s web communications needs. I think there might be a few other reasons why you have failed to get much interest from councils

  13. Glad to hear about your Utopian school, Adam. That must be the one where the kids get that extra £1,400 per head in government grant which none of the other Haringey schools get -because the Council forgot to apply for it.

    And is it pretty near the bottom of the results tables, like the other Haringey schools?

  14. Gosh John of all the ignorant people who come on here you take the prize.

    First, as a parent I take the education of my children very seriously. They go to a good solid primary school that is performing well and that real people actually attend. In 1996 it was a school I would not have sent my children to. The result I have to say of years of national govt underfunding and disinterest.

    Second, Haringey is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse places in the country. That brings with it really good things but also many challenges. There are a lot of kids who do not have English as a first language and/or whose parents whether single or two parent families do not work. But my experience is that they are very keen to ensure their children have life chances and their children are well behaved, work hard and make good progress. It is an absolute insult to the people of Haringey to paint the broad and uttely contemptuous picture of the schools that you have done.

    Third, results tables mean very little although the ofsted for our school is good. What will work for education in this country is if people like me choose to send their children to their local schools and actively paticipate to encourage them to improve further (yeah the big society isn’t new it’s been going on forever).

    Fourth and much like Lynne you seem unable to distinguish between the politicians in Haringey council and the people who either work there or on its behalf. It is lazy self indulgent and self interested Liberal Democrat and Tory political nonsense to label everything in Haringey as uselss because hey big surprise it is far from perfect.

  15. But tell me, Adam, why Haringey has to be further away from perfect than any other London council?
    Insults apart, I notice you don’t deny either of my points. As one who has watched Haringey education closely since 1972, rather than 1996, I’ll trust my own judgement, thanks.
    Presumably you don’t deal with the funding boob, because it’s so basic, so embarrassing, such a failure to give Haringey kids of all colours what they deserve.
    Ineptitude like that simply cannot be camouflaged by a bushel of leaflets about diversity and life-chances.

  16. I am not here to defend Haringey council or advocate for it so I don’t consider the specific points you make, such as they are, to be worth denying.

    No one is saying you can’t form your own judgement. However, mine is based on the simple fact that my children go to school here. It is a good school that is performing well. That is something that should be acknowledged and applauded.

    People will be able to form their own judgement about the direction you come from based on the dismissive second half of your final sentence.

  17. @John & Adam

    What’s interesting is that Lynne is supporting Haringey Council becoming less accountable with her support for the axing of the National Audit Office.

    Oh yeh, I forget that the private sector will come on board to do it’s job. However, £200million will not be enough to interest them to cover all councils in the way that the NAO did – I’ve worked in the private sector, I know what accountants, lawyers, consultants, receivers, etc, etc cost.

    I wonder who’ll pick-up that bill when it finally comes in? Councils will either have less auditing or we’ll pay through the nose both option mean we lose. This is another PFI moment…. short term gain for a lot of long term pain.

    Personnally, I think the Cameron-favoured councils like Hammersmith & Fulham particularly need oversight given that they’re cutting services (transport, meals on wheels, etc) to the elderly and disabled in order to deliver council tax cuts. I don’t think Haringey have stooped anywhere near that level.

  18. A mapping site is only one answer to many of the councils needs. The truth is having worked as a consultant for many local government agencies I find that too often they are ripped off by too many “expert” companies involved. Are you the same Steven Feldman that was CEO of MapInfo ?

  19. Strange how much of the comment is Lib Dem bashing and not focussed on the website. Labour has not wasted much time in developing this strategy and it is certainly a lot easier than being honest about the disasters of its period in office. I wonder what Labour would be doing now if it had the responsibility for clearing up the mess? For the record I have used the website frequently and it is not particularly good. If it is the most expensive local authority website I am surprised.

  20. @Andrew

    There are several things that go wrong with most local government web sites and technologies that make things expensive
    1. Overkill – Very often the types of databases that are deployed are far to big and require expensive machinery to run them not to mention expensive administrators and third party suppliers
    2. When I did evaluation of some roads and highways instances I found the average number of utility digs were in fact about 5/6 within each borough. This means that there are around 2000/3000 digs per year by utility companies. Digs are a source of finance by councils as when a utility company mis-digs the council can fine them and this has a life of its own as a way of raising revenues.
    3.Expensive and “Fit for Purpose” software is then ordered which in turn requires expensive and fit consultants to go with them.
    4. Finally poor training in Councils of what is required of them to do the jobs manually which then becomes a black box and a magic button for them to use unquestionallly.
    5. Several companies and their junior partner companies build and withdraw support of systems so a client meaning a council has to go buying new versions between them and of course each time around there is training costs also be expected.
    6. Many of these software have to meet standards defined by the central bodies in charge of local government as they over ambitious projects.
    7. To give an idea a typical corrected land and property address management system will be turned into a rocket science – in other words making a meal of it
    8. Slick sales methods a few luncher outings and visits to other sites are arranged and before long certain companies become the defined standard.
    9. Then they sell their companies to other companies who will withdraw the product and release a bigger and better all the while the actual data collected is still insignificant.
    10. The whole process will start all over again as soon as an upgraded version is released because the companies will stop supporting the existing version (Product shelf life)
    If councils did a better job in negotiating and actually using their independent consultants then much of this would not happen. In the words of one council whom I worked with they stated “We hire expensive consultants and don’t listen to them!”
    Finally there is an attitude that its the tax payers money being wasted and nobody will hold them to account.

  21. @ Jamal (or is it Jim?)
    I left mapinfo 2 years ago so no axe to grind on their behalf. I still think that councils should choose their software and services on the basis of quality and service at least as much as cost although I would expect my LA to get the best value possible.

    @ John
    I think you have the roadworks figures slightly wrong, more like 10,000 per authority per year.

  22. @Steven
    Its probable the figure may be slightly wrong your Local Authority but for some outer London Boroughs (Smaller ones perhaps) over 7 years only 28000 records were collected on an Oracle Enterprise database costing a fair amount of money. While I would not have suggested the use of MS Access which it could easily have handled along with an ActiveX Map Control, certainly a VB based app using SQL would have done the trick well with room to grow when needed. I know that some of these applications have sold for a quarter of a million or more so I presume your local taxes go up correspondingly.

  23. Yes it is also Jim Steven, Your partners Father Peter had renamed me to Jim for professional purposes and professionally the name stuck. Hope you are well Steven last I heard you were championing something to do with the OS.

  24. Oh I forgot, You were not in GDC when I worked for them as their Mapinfo Product Manager back in the early 1990s. Don’t know if you knew Peter Klien (Mikes dad) who treated me like a son and I will always remember him well.

  25. Hi Lynne

    As someone who has voted LibDem all my life (and been a member) I’m NOT a Labour troll as implied by Andrew Seager.

    What would your comments be to the IFS report that claims the budget does hit the poorest hardest?


    Funny that George Osborne used to use them as gospel when in opposition, he now is saying they’ve got it all wrong.

  26. Hi Lynne

    I’m sorry to keep criticising you on your blog, you personally have offered help if I need it and that’s very kind.

    The reason for these attacks are not driven by party politics but simply the fact that I’m dying and am frightened at the prospect of so much turmoil before I die.

    I just think that Danny Alexander and George Osborne in choosing the terminally ill picked the group least likely to be able to defend itself if ATOS get mixed-up like they often do apparently. The thought of having to appeal horrifies me, I just don’t feel up to it….. it feels as if I’ve been fighting the NHS for a few years but at least I thought I might survive. Now that weight is off my shoulders there’s the prospect of fighting the DWP just to live day to day.

  27. @ Bob

    Andrew is a Lib Dem (see Lib Dem Voice) so is a bit upset that a bunch of non-aligned people do not like his cuddly party. It is easier to just assume the opposition is from Labour trolls than face the truth that his party is doomed because of the actions of his leader and those who have followed him. The sluightly sad thing is the total absence of comment here from anyone who is a Labour troll!

    As for Lynne:

    IFS report- silence.
    Fawcett budget challenge- silence. Good this one from an equalities proponent.
    NHS judicial review challenge- silence.

  28. Yet another ‘own goal’ from Nick Clegg, the best since ’30 quid Nick’.
    So the IFS report failed to take into account the budget measures to get people off benefits and into work did it – so just what exactly were these measures? Did I miss something?
    I can only assume that poor old Nick is referring to the announcement that DLA entitlement is going to be reviewed – the trouble is that DLA is not an out of work benefit. Oh dear!
    I think you need to have a word in his ear Lynne and let him know that the deputy PM is supposed to know these things. Absolutely farcical, and if it weren’t so totally inept it would be funny.

    Bob, on Atos. There is a momentum gathering and Lynne will soon have to answer to a higher authority than a blog to explain why, as equalities minister, she has ignored the voices of concern of so many.

  29. Just seen Clegg on the news “redefining fairness”.

    Apparently that well known bunch of commies at the IFS has got it all wrong because it hasn’t taken into account what the coalition is trying to do.

    You just couldn’t make this **** up if you tried.

  30. Haven’t the anti-coalitioners anything better to do than packing Lynne’s blog with predictable carping? Like acknowledging the last 13 years of mismanagement of the economy which has left the country in the state that it is? Or voting for Millidum or Millidee as the next oh so exciting face of NuLab?

  31. I feel destroyed gavin.

    Mind you if you have a little read you will see the antis have a large range of views. And the pros just go on about 13 years blah blah blah. And no mention of US or UK banks.

  32. Gavin, unfortunately, it seems as if you know nothing about politics or economics.
    Luckily, Lynne’s constituents do.
    That’s why this will be her final term as MP for Hornsey & Wood Green, unless she leaves the coalition asap.

  33. @James Atkinson

    You presume a little too much. I am one of Lynne’s constituents. I voted for her. And I will do so again. Dream on if you think this will be her last term (unless she decides to retire).

    I know enough of both politics and economics to know that the last Labour government was a unmitigated disaster for the country. They have left the place in a mess that the coalition must now clean up. A good start has been made but there is much to do. What’s labour’s input? Carping on the sidelines, adding nothing valuable and gazing at their navel which must be more interesting by the minute. A bit like many of the comments here really.

  34. @Gavin

    I don’t know what planet you were living on for the last 13 years but it certainly wasn’t one that was at least partly healed from the vindictiveness of the the Thatcherite miracle that we now seem to be hurtling back to under the guise of necessary austerity brought about by the bank induced credit crunch (perhaps Labours biggest error was being so craven to the wealth creators in the city, look what they did for us)

    I was one of the gullible folk who switched support to what I thought was a left of centre LibDem party. If Lynne wants to get re-elected she needs to start articulating radical and fair policies and speak out when she thinks this govt is wrong. Toeing the party line and pleading collective responsibility may keep her in a junior ministerial role and may even provide the opportunity of further promotion as the human shield for the proponents of a stripped down public sector but there will be a price to pay with the electorate of Hornsey and Wood Green.

    Almost Faustian

    Incidentally if unhappy constituents who voted for Lynne can’t express their views on this blog what on earth is the point of it? More to the point you might ask why there are not hordes of deeply grateful and supportive comments on the blog from all those happy LibDems and Tories who share your view of the economics of the last 13 years?

  35. Mr Atkinson, I can assure you Lynne won’t be leaving anytime soon. Her independence and initiative make her worth ten of the Union hacks Labour will put up against her, and local voters know it .How else do you explain her massively- increased majority?

  36. I can explain her “massively increased majority” down to the fact that she stood as a Liberal Democrat on a manifesto that was to the left of Labour.
    She is now serving in a government that is to the right of Thatcher.
    If she had any sense or dignity, she would leave the coalition and spend time trying to regain the trust and respect of her constituents.
    Be brave Lynne. Otherwise you’re toast.

  37. No, Lynne won on her record of support for local views on major issues, and she will do so again.

    We trust her to negotiate Westminster’s shoals just as she has done in the past, and to remain an independent voice while exercising well-deserved power.

  38. @Gavin

    Ok, as you’re close to the party machine, can you please tell me why it’s important that I, as someone who is terminally ill and going steadily downhill, have the threat of an ATOS interview to decide whether I’m sick or not?

    Why are the experienced views of the palliative care team, my GP, hospital consultants, district nursing team not important? They know I’m seriously disabled and am going to die why do I need to be interviewed needlesly?

    Cutting out the politics, I really feel this ATOS this hanging over me because apparently they have a lot of form for making big mistakes. I can’t queue-up for jobs (if I could, I would) and I’m frightened that my last days on the planet will be spent having to appeal, fighting the government. The last few years have been hellish, can’t I just have some peace?

    I’m not the only one, other people at the hospice have talked about this and the district nurses have said many paitents are really worried.

    I know Lynne’s offered to help but if there are problems with ATOS but why do I even need to be assessed – I’m assessed all the time, by far more experienced people.

  39. No problem, John.
    Lynne can look forward to getting two votes at the next election – from you and Gavin.
    Although, I’m not sured about Gavin… think he’s a Tory.

  40. @ Yvonne McDonald

    You need a lockable retractable post. Problem solved.

    You will no longer be able to call on thieves and robbers masquerading as legal operatives (clampers). Now you have the choice, secure your space or stop complaining. For far too long landowners like you washed your hands of the misery that the agents you so gleefully despatched caused to other people. Now you will have to stop conspiring in the daylight robbery of your fellow man and take steps to secure your valuable parking space. As you should.