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Round-up and happy birthday

by on February 24, 2010

Well folks, I’m going to be off for a few days, so I thought I’d take the opportunity for a general round-up and response to some of the recent discussions on the blog. I also thought I’d take the opportunity to give you a little more info on our plans for the coming year.

Before that, I’d like to remark that this blog had its first birthday yesterday and in that time it has received almost 40,000 views. I hope you find it useful. I certainly enjoy the banter and relish some of the challenging feedback. I’d be delighted to hear your views on what the future of the blog should be, in particular, ways it might be improved.

A common theme throughout the year has been the fairly regular and fairly robust criticism of 1App. Not least in the recent thread of discussion around building control – where a regular comment has been: “Don’t do it if you are going to turn it into another 1App,” referring to what is considered by many to be its over complexity. There have been many perfectly sensible suggestions for how it might be improved and hopefully you will have seen some of those ideas come to fruition over the past year.

What we haven’t managed to do yet, is find the time to step back and consider the step-change in delivery that the process requires to make it truly compelling. In order to achieve that, we need some clear water and I’m sure you’ll appreciate from your own working lives that it is not always easy to find.

In the past year we have attracted several unanticipated projects that have distracted us from giving 1App the attention it deserves. But rest assured, we intend to make improving 1App a major objective for the coming year. In particular, we hope to make it simpler and easier to use.

You may have seen recent posts about multiple uploads and offline working, please take a moment to comment on these threads, but I’ll also post a separate “name your own improvement” post shortly, followed by a poll asking you to vote for the most pressing.

The most recent topic to excite your interest appears to have been the subject of Building Control and the Portal’s role in it. There appears to be a view that the Portal is attempting some kind of land grab and I’d like to reassure you that the view could not be further from the truth.

By far the most common question I receive personally, and our team receives at meetings around the country, is: “When are you going to do Building Control?” I have to react to this and thought I’d begin by giving our users a chance to corroborate or reject the proposal that we should deliver some e-capability.

Many point to LABC and the supplier Submit-a-Plan and suggest simply that we promote their services. While I regularly talk with both parties – and have a lot of respect for them – it has to be remembered that both are private companies and neither represents the totality of local authorities. The Portal, as a Government unit, has to engage equally with all players and must be seen not to be favouring any single company.

All that said, we won’t be doing anything at all without the support of our customers and the sponsoring department within CLG, so watch this space and keep adding your comments.

And finally, I’m not sure exactly how long I’ll be out of the office but colleagues will keep this particular fire stoked while I’m away, so keep the feedback coming please.


  1. Tom permalink

    Thanks for the blog on behalf of those who post on here and being available to pass your own comment. It’s a useful tool and an excellent means of promoting dialogue.

  2. Philip Hammond permalink

    I take issue with your description of LABC as a “private company not representing the totality of local authorities” and implying we are somehow biased or have a conflict of interest.
    LABC is a non-profit making member organisation and like many other member organisations is only a company limited by guarantee. We were initially established with help from the LGA and took over functions previously handled by them. Our members are the local authorities of England and Wales. And this point needs reinforcing, it is local authorities that are our members. LABC is run by representatives elected by their regons and a national council. The Submit-a-Plan solutions were initially established to provide an email route before Planning Portal existed. And it has grown and developed since because of demand from business users and local authorities. LABC has supported customers and members by ensuring its provision.
    Submit-a-Plan is an LABC initiative delivered by Resolution.

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Hi Phil,
      thanks for putting me straight.
      I was trying (clumsily) to get across the point that unlike planning we have to consider Approved Inspectors and others. That there are alternatives to LABC and we have no choice but to actively seek dialogue with all. If I appeared detrimental to LABC I apologise unreservedly as I have great respect for the organisation.

Please give us your feedback but we won’t publish any comments that are not constructive or that criticise any individual, any named business or any local authority. Please note, all comments will be moderated before being published.

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