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Council websites win on tips, fail on bins

29/01/16

New Socitm survey provides mixed review of website services around rubbish tips and bin collections

Local authorities are doing well in using their websites to help residents find their nearest rubbish tip, but falling short on enabling them to report a missed bin collection online, according to the latest Better connected survey by Socitm.

s300_Recycling_bins_1_960x640The public sector IT association said that 78% of the councils tested scored three or four stars in its ratings for people searching for council tip opening times, even when doing so on their mobile phones. But only 41% achieved satisfactory ratings when it came to reporting a missed bin.

Socitm ran the survey over the Christmas holidays, when many residents are eager to check bin collection arrangements. It tested the ‘find tip opening times’ task through a structured questionnaire including questions like ‘Does a Google search lead me to the task?’ and ‘Is it clear when the facility will be closed over Christmas?'

Sites that performed particularly well on the task were those of Warwickshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Kent and Nottinghamshire. Soctim's report on this part of the survey shows they all did more than meeting the basic criteria.

Checklist question

‘Report missed bin’ was tested through a similar process, involving questions like ‘Am I provided with a checklist of reasons why my bin might not have been collected prior to starting the reporting process?’, ‘Is there a postcode look-up to find my collection day?’ and ‘Does the form only seek what information is necessary to accept the report?’

Sites that did well on the test included those of Barnet, Cambridge City, Dover, Flintshire and Wolverhampton.

The reviewers raised several complaints about councils requiring residents to sign up for customer accounts before they could report a missed bin online, and about a Google search taking a user straight to an online form with no information about a why bin might not have been collected.

Both surveys also involved testing the websites' functionality, including optimisation for mobile, quality of site search and navigation, use of maps and absence of out of date content.

Waste and recycling are among the most visible services for most councils, and the Department for Communities and Local Government's Local Waste Service Standards project has estimated that significant savings could be made if the whole process of managing bin collections were made a fully digital.

Picture from DCLG, OpenGovernment Licence v3.0

 

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