Response Programme hits series of delays

£50 million scheme unlikely to implemented by December target date

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The massive communications project being undertaken by Ealing Council has hit a series of technical problems which are likely to delay key parts of its implementation.

The new Council Leader, Leo Thomson was unable to give definitive answers to a number of questions from the Conservative opposition on the programme's timetable. Although she remained confident that the target of 80% of callers being dealt with at the first point of contact would be met and a single phone number for Council callers would be implemented she could not say when this would happen.

Part of the reason for the uncertainty on the timetable is due to problems with integrating the various software systems that have been introduced by the Council. Local software experts have voiced concerns that the Council would have difficulty managing a project of this size (the IT budget alone is over £14 million) particularly due to the high turnover of staff.

The ground floor reception of newly refurbished Perceval House is planned to be opened in July of this year but it remains unclear whether the new systems that staff at the centre were supposed to have will be available.

Cllr. Leo Thomson said in a written reply to Cllr Barabar Yerolemou, "The timetable for migrating all services to the new way of working is currently under review not only from the impact of delayed new UT but also because of the national changes to both childrens and adult services over the next few years."

Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Jason Stacey, said he was extremely concerned but not surprised by the setbacks facing Response. He said, "We have consistently argued the Council was moving too far too fast on Response. Labour’s big bang approach has meant cuts to services, hikes in Council tax and staff morale falling to its lowest ebb. Yet Cllr Thomson - the architect of Response - has always insisted that that the considerable dislocation would be worthwhile in the end. Now, seven months before the deadline she cannot say which services will be available and which will not, nor give any clear indication as to a timetable for implementation.”

March 28th, 2005