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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 02/08/2004
APPENDIX B - IMPLEMENTING E-GOVERNMENT (IEG) - 2004/05 IEG CAPITAL GRANT AND PLANNING AND REGULATORY SERVICES ON LINE (PARSOL)



Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report is to bring Members up-to-date with respect to:-

The Council’s claim for an IEG Capital Grant of 350,000 from the ODPM for 2004/05; and

The Council’s involvement in the PARSOL project and to explain the benefits that have accrued.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
Positive
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX B
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 2ND AUGUST 2004
[THIS MATTER WAS DEFERRED AT THE MEETING ON 12TH JULY]

Title:
IMPLEMENTING E-GOVERNMENT (IEG) – 2004/05 IEG CAPITAL
GRANT AND PLANNING AND REGULATORY SERVICES
ON LINE (PARSOL)

[Wards Affected: All]

Summary and purpose:

The purpose of this report is to bring Members up-to-date with respect to:-

The Council’s claim for an IEG Capital Grant of 350,000 from the ODPM for 2004/05; and

The Council’s involvement in the PARSOL project and to explain the benefits that have accrued.

Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy
Positive
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive

E-Government implications:

The ODPM’s annual IEG Capital Grant is a key component of the Government’s strategy for the electronic delivery of public services.
The PARSOL project has direct implications for e-government that are dealt with in the body of the report.

Resource and legal implications:

The Council has submitted a claim to the ODPM for an IEG Grant of 350,000 for financial year 2004/05. This compares to the 200,000 estimated grant included within the Capital Programme for 2004/05. If the extra grant is received it will need to be spent on schemes not currently in the Capital Programme.

The PARSOL project has attracted funding of 75,820 for hardware and software over the last eighteen months. Staff time has also been recompensed.

IEG Capital Grant

1. The ODPM has been providing financial support to Local Authorities, in the form of an annual capital grant, in order to achieve the Government’s target of 100% electronic service delivery by the end of 2005. It has managed this process by requiring each Local Authority to submit an “IEG Statement” each financial year setting out the Authority’s strategy and progress towards achieving that target. With respect to financial years 2002/03 and 2003/04, if the ODPM deemed the Authority’s “IEG Statement” to be satisfactory then the Authority was automatically entitled to a grant of 200,000.

2. At its meeting on 28th October 2003, the Executive approved the Council’s “IEG3 Statement”, a pre-requisite to being eligible for an IEG Capital Grant in 2004/05. The Council was informed by the ODPM, in February 2004, that this statement was satisfactory and that the 2004/05 IEG Grant would be 350,000, a significant increase on the 200,000 granted in each of the two previous financial years. However, unlike previous years, there were conditions attached to receiving the grant.

3. In April 2004, the ODPM published its “E-Government Outcomes for 2005”, a list of specific e-Government targets for the delivery of priority services, 29 of which are required to be implemented by December 2005 and a further 25 by April 2006. Receipt of the 2004/05 IEG Grant is dependent upon the Council:-

(i) Completing a form setting out the Council’s position, as at 31st March 2004, with respect to each of the e-government outcomes for priority services; and

(ii) Certifying that the grant has been spent on “achieving e-government by 2005”.

4. The form (see (i) above), entitled “Baseline of priority service & national strategy transformation outcomes for local e-government in December 2005”, had to be completed and submitted alongside the claim for the 2004/05 IEG Grant, the deadline for which was 14th June 2004. Your officers completed the form and submitted the Council’s claim in advance of the deadline. A copy of the completed form is attached at Annexe 1.

5. With respect to certification (see (ii) above), the ODPM will require the Council’s Chief Finance Officer to provide information on actual expenditure demonstrating that the grant has been spent specifically on implementing e-government. The ODPM reserves the right to invoke retrospective recovery of IEG grants where there is evidence that the grants have not been used to support “IEG activity”.

6. The ODPM has stated that the Council’s progress on delivering the “E-Government Outcomes for 2005”, monitored against the “Baseline”, will be a component of the “IEG Statement” required to be submitted to the ODPM this Autumn in order to be eligible to receive a final IEG Grant of 150,000 in 2005/06. Failure to demonstrate progress in 2004/05 will exclude Councils from further IEG funding in 2005/06.

7. Assuming that the Council has completed the “Baseline” form to the ODPM’s satisfaction, and in the light of the list of specific “e-Government outcomes for 2005”, your officers are currently reviewing the Council’s “Electronic Government for Customer Services” capital programme for 2004/05 and will seek members’ approval of a revised budget at the September meeting of the Executive.

The Planning and Regulatory Services National Project

8. In 2002, Waverley was asked to join a group of authorities whose remit was to explore innovative ways of further e-enabling planning and regulatory services. Through ideas and concepts generated within the Planning Department, Waverley successfully bid for funding and were joined by Birmingham City Council, Harborough DC and Basingstoke and Deane to implement a practical solution.

9. The Planning and Regulatory Services National Project comprised four parts or "Streams":-

Stream 1 – Accessible Planning Services
Stream 2 – Interactions, Standards and Toolkits
Stream 3 – Technical Infrastructure
Stream 4 – Regulation and Licensing

10. Waverley’s involvement was in Stream 1 and the projects are explained below. In other Streams, authorities looked at solutions for carrying out statutory consultations on planning applications and the Local Development Framework on-line, use of mobile technology, e-planning standards and licensing and regulatory services.

Waverley Projects

11. Do I Need Planning Permission and Building Regulations Consent ?

All local planning authorities receive a substantial number of "permitted development" enquiries from the public; for example, “do I need planning permission to put up a shed ?”. No planning authority had managed to create an expert system on the web that could tell people definitively whether they required planning permission or not. The aim of this part of the project was to see if it was possible to devise such a system.

Part of the answer to whether planning permission is necessary is dependent on previous planning history, planning constraints e.g. conservation area, and removal of permitted development rights by earlier planning permissions. This information is held by local planning authorities in various forms and one of the challenges of the project was to see if this data could be made available via the web site to inform the expert system.

Since January 2004, your officers have been putting together the expert system for Waverley’s web site. It works on the basis of a series of questions and answers and uses "decision tree" software. The system has to interact with a number of different systems such as the Council’s geographic information system, planning applications, land and property gazetteer and document image processing. The challenge was to try to bring all this information together. This has not been tried before. It has required the purchase of web mapping technology to display and interact with mapping on the website, knowledge management and contact management software. The expert system is now entering the final testing stage and should be available to the public in the summer.

12. Planning Agent Accreditation Scheme – Fast Track

This scheme aims to speed up the processing of householder planning applications and informs applicants and agents of the progress of their planning applications via the web.

By successfully completing an accreditation process and signing up and adhering to a Code of Practice, an agent can "fast track" his or her applications directly to the case officer and bypass the usual validation stage. At peak periods this could save the agent a number of days. In return, Waverley undertakes to determine these applications in six weeks or less as long as they remain delegated items.

A successful pilot scheme was carried out in the autumn of 2003 with twelve agents and the full scheme is currently being launched to all other agents in the area. Basingstoke and Deane have joined Waverley in delivering this project and a number of other authorities have expressed an interest in taking up the scheme.

A progress checking system has been devised for the website as part of this project and this will be launched in June. The system pulls information from the planning application software and displays it on the web to agents, applicants and other interested parties.

13. Advice on Procurement, Design and the Planning Process

This part of the project brings together in one place advice to anyone contemplating a building project. It takes them through the issues surrounding planning permission, good design practice, specialist help, choosing builders and contracts. This information is now available on the Waverley website.

14. Information to Businesses

One of the problems being tackled by this part of the project is the lack of good information on the web for small business looking for available premises. Waverley have teamed up with a commercial provider of property information to give a comprehensive guide to available premises in the Waverley area by combining information that the Council holds with that held by the commercial provider. The aim is also to give additional information to businesses such as planning history, business rates, relevant business organisations etc

15. Involvement in this National Project has been both interesting and challenging. It will certainly achieve its aim of making Waverley’s planning services more accessible. The work on the expert system may well form part of the national e-planning standards in the near future and work on the National Project in general will help with the "Implementing Electronic Government" requirements.

16. Although the project has involved a great deal of officer time it has had the benefits of attracting a large amount of funding for new web services which would not have been possible to achieve in the short term.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:-

1. in anticipation of the receipt of the IEG Grant for 2004/05, your officers revisit the Council’s “Electronic Government for Customer Services” capital programme for 2004/05, recognising that it must invest the grant in the ODPM’s e-government outcomes for priority services to avoid any repayment of grant, and report back to the September meeting of the Executive;

2. the progress made on the PARSOL project be noted; and

3. a presentation of the new planning e-services be arranged if members so wish.

Background Papers (DoP&D)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Louise Norie Telephone: 01483 523464
E-mail: lnorie@waverley.gov.uk

Name: Phil Tucker Telephone: 01483 523157
E-mail: ptucker@waverley.gov.uk

Name: Lawrence Heath Telephone: 01483 523084
E-mail: lheath@waverley.gov.uk

comms/exec/2004-05/070