Councillors take aim at unreliable IT system

GLASGOW councillors have complained of a catalogue of problems with the city's IT system – a system they are ultimately responsible for.

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They have slated the service they get – ripping in to the semi-privatised provider – moaning about missing e-mails, long queues at printers and poor internet access.

In an anonymous survey of Glasgow's 79 elected members, IT firm Access uncovered a range of gripes.

One unnamed councillor said: "The main issue is that a lot of things don't seem to work properly."

The politicians, according to the report, were angry about losing e-mails from constituents and officers – including potentially important or sensitive information.

One said: "E-mail which should have come to councillors has been lost. This is both surprising and extremely troubling."

Another added: "E-mails addressed to me have been deleted without my knowledge or permission."

Councillors also moaned about spending much of their time queuing to collect print-outs. The council has centralised printing. So, for example, all 27 SNP councillors share a single printer.

A councillor – it's not clear from which party – said: "Rubbish idea to centralise printing. Spend too much time trying to get printer to work."

Another said: "When people send me documents in Microsoft 2010 I can't print them off.

"I have to send it to support staff to be done, which I feel is totally unacceptable. Especially when I could be dealing with sensitive information."

Fully 49% of councillors were dissatisfied with the printing arrangements.

Some of the members said they struggled with their Blackberry phones – "too complicated" said one.

One angry user said: "The e-mail is basic, internet runs slow and freezes or breaks down all the time."

Most councillors, however, were satisfied with the phone.

Not everybody was dissatisfied. One councillor praised IT workers.

They said: "The Access staff, in my experience are always courteous and try their best to answer questions and solve problems."

Access has decided to do offer more training – including showing councillors how to use their phones.

One council insider said: "Councillors would be the first to shout if we started spending a fortune on IT.

"Our system isn't as bad as their comments suggest.

"It's not perfect, but then neither is the computer literacy of quite a few of our councillors."

Graeme Hendry, leader of the opposition SNP, said: "It doesn't surprise me that most councillors are unhappy with the equipment provided by Access given they tried to replace the desktop I use with a new one only to change their mind as the new computer was of a lower spec than the four-year-old one I currently use."

An Access spokesman said: "We work with users, including elected members, to learn more about how they use its services, monitor performance and make improvements."

david.leask@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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