The Lambeth Council website has undergone significant improvements as part of the council’s Customer Service programme and is now a modern, user-friendly website, offering greater accessibility and new online facilities.

As part of the development, carried out by cScape Strategic Internet Services to provide a fully integrated website, Lambeth now offers residents and businesses convenient access to a wide range of council information and the facility to pay for a host of services online. Online payments are available for:

• Council tax
• Business rates
• Housing Benefit overpayments
• Parking penalty charge notices
• Housing rent
• Housing service charges.

Additionally, the website provides access to a number of online forms where residents can:

• Report a missed refuse collection
• Apply for information regarding fostering and adoption
• Report an abandoned vehicle
• Apply to become a newly qualified teacher
• Submit feedback, comments or complaints on council services
• Make a Freedom of Information request
• Request a recycling collection.

The new design for the site was produced in collaboration with web design agency Fortune Cookie and tested for usability with a group of borough residents to make sure that it conformed to best practice standards of usability and web accessibility. This means that all users can access the site and its content and services regardless of disability, hardware used or their levels of technical skills and knowledge.

The new CMS (content management system) means that content on the Lambeth website is easier to manage, inclusive and regularly updated. With its easy search function you can access information from a whole range of services quickly.

The extensive website has information on more than 700 services ranging from the arts to health issues, street care and youth clubs. More people than ever are using the Internet and to date, Lambeth has seen a 76 per cent increase in the number of visitors accessing the website, with more than 43,500 unique visitors accessing the site in April 2005.

Providing services online makes the council more accessible and efficient in terms of the way services are approached and information delivered. The upgrading of the website has greatly improved customer service at Lambeth, especially serving those who can’t or find it difficult to visit the network of council reception points around the borough. Residents now have a quick, easy, reliable and comprehensive service for getting information from the council, carrying out certain transactions and making requests. Online services are available 24 hours a day, offering visitors more choices in terms of accessibility.

The Lambeth web site has been awarded the Plain English Crystal Mark in recognition of the fact that it is easy to use and understand. Additionally, in a recent independent assessment of all local authority websites (SOCITM’s Better Connected Report 2005), Lambeth was rated in the top 12 per cent and praised for the site’s excellent navigation, accessibility and consultation.

Cllr John Whelan, Deputy Leader of the Council, says: “We can take great pride in our website and the team behind it. We have moved from having very few services on line in 2002 to a fully transactional site that enables our residents to deal directly with the Council in paying bills and downloading documents.”

The website is also promoting our social inclusion agenda and is much more accessible for people with disabilities. But we are not complacent. We welcome feedback and hope people will tell us if there is anything more we can do.”

As web content manager, Kate Vogelsang explains: “The upgraded website offers much better facilities, which means users can now access a whole spectrum of services they did not have access to previously. The 76 per cent increase in visitors to the website, is testimony that the site is working and meeting its overall objectives in accessibility, usefulness and serving the Lambeth community as a whole.”

Ends.

Published on: 12:00AM on 14th July 2005