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70% of councils tested provide a good or very good parking service online says Better connected

Nearly 70% of councils tested – London boroughs and metropolitan districts - provide a good or very good parking service online.

This result, based on testing of the task ‘pay parking fine’, and the associated report, is the first to be published following a re-launch of Socitm’s Better connected programme.

Among other new developments, Better connected is now making headline results for all councils, and the ‘all council’ report on performance on the task tested, freely available to all. This can be viewed via the new betterconnected.socitm.net website

Details of individual council reviews and results remain available to Socitm subscribers only (around 75% of all councils). Any employee of a Better connected-subscribing council can register for free with Socitm.net and then get access to the detailed results for their council.

Some open data for all UK councils, including contextual data about website visits, social media engagement and mobile friendliness is available to all visitors to the Better connected website.

In the area of parking services council websites generally handle the task ‘pay parking fine’ well, with nearly 70% achieving 3 or 4 stars on a scale of 1 to four. This is similar to the 72% that achieved the Better connected ‘standard’ (equivalent to 3 or 4 stars), when the task was last tested in 2013.

Getting 3 or 4 stars for this year’s task is more difficult, since there is now an ‘essential question’ that must be answered correctly before a service canbe awarded 3 or 4 stars, and Better connected also marks down any services that offer information that is clearly not up to date.

Councils that do less well on this task tend to fail in just one or two key areas, like failing to match terminology on the physical parking ticket with that on the payment form, or making it difficult to navigate to information about discounts and appeals.

A range of other services are being tested with reports due for publication over the coming months, these include the most visited services online, like rubbish and recycling, planning, leisure and schools. A full list with anticipated timings is available on the Better connected website.

Following the task-based surveys, Better connected will test performance from mobiles, usability and accessibility. These elements will be combined into an overall Better connected star ranking to be announced next spring. Best practice will be shared through events in the Learning from Better connected programme, details of which will be announced soon.

‘Congratulations to those councils that have achieved the top 4 star ranking for this task’ says Martin Ferguson, Socitm’s Director of Policy and Research. ‘The service provided by the best performers is really excellent. By making Better connected results and commentary more accessible through our new publishing platform we are enabling the sharing of digital expertise that is so vital for the sector. I do urge anyone involved in the transformation of local public services to visit betterconnected.socitm.net’

‘The new platform has been designed for interaction and sharing’ says Vicky Sargent, director of Boilerhouse Media, which is working in partnership with Socitm to deliver the new Better connected. ‘Every council has its own page on the site, and can comment publicly on its results. We aim to publish open data as well as subscriber-only data on this site, as visitors will see. The sector needs this sort of interaction and open sharing in order to move forward in really challenging times. Watch this space for further innovation from the Better connected programme.

Press enquiries: Vicky Sargent 07726 601139

Further information-how to access Better connected results:

Access to individual council results for Parking 2015-16 are available to employees of Socitm Insight subscribing organisations.

Check if your organisation subscribes and then register on Socitm.net free of charge with your email address. You will then be able to use these login details to register on https://betterconnected.socitm.net

If your organisation is not a subscriber find out about benefits.