Jun 28 2013

Harrow Council: New website, new failure

harrow_council_logoBarely had the Council’s new web site been launched, then it decided to crash if you should try to use the search function. Launched with much aplomb, and, we’d image, cakes in the Council’s in-house web team’s office earlier today, it looks as if this could end up being yet another ill-thought out attempt at IT.

Having spent £23,000 – they say – of residents’ money on a redesign, they’d already wiped the Independent Labour Group off the map when it launched. Now, having hastily dispatched someone to fix that embarrassing mistake, an attempt to do a simple search produces this error:


Now, what’s especially interesting is that the search that  caused that particular error was for ‘susan hall’. Likewise, a search for ‘thaya idaikkadar’ produces the exact same result. However, a search for a single-word search term seems to work fine. Odder still, searching for ‘michael lockwood’ – esteemed CEO of the council – works okay, yet a search for ‘barry macleod-cullinane’ produces the error again.

Looks very much like the council has managed to produce a search engine that, uh, won’t let you search for any of your elected councillors…

Still, as it’s a Friday night, no doubt this’ll be broken all weekend. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.


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  1. HarrowRes

    Ha Ha – entirely predictable, this council cannot get anything right !

    How can they not have tested the basic search functionality !!!

  2. Linda Robinson

    Harrow Council’s website has always left a very great deal to be desired ever since its earliest incarnation. It would be an unexpectedly pleasant surprise if this one is any better.

    The best advice for anyone searching for anything in particular, whether it’s on Harrow’s site or any other, is always to USE GOOGLE! If you don’t know how to use it properly to get the results you need, find out.

    For harrow.gov.uk to spend time and money perfecting a search facility is just reinventing the wheel. What’s more important for Harrow is making sure its online information is accurate, comprehensive, up to date and easy to navigate. I don’t hold out much hope of that happening though.

    As for Georgia’s hope that the planning pages will show an improvement (http://www.iharrow.com/council/harrow-council-to-launch-new-website/#comment-624)
    I have no doubt she will be disappointed – surely the planning portal is still exactly the same, and accessing it via harrow.gov.uk looks more obscure than ever to me.

  3. john p hobbs

    Well now we know they are overpaid for the job . no surprise .

  4. Owen

    I think your being abit harsh here. The website results do work, try a few key searches and your see what I mean. Even the search for Susan hall works, so I’m not so sure your article is correct.

    I work in IT and trust me a website like this for 23k seems good value, I think to give a fair comparison you should also report on the cost of other council websites.

  5. Perhaps they’ve fixed it in the last 24 hours, but this isn’t the first IT cock-up at the Council – you’ll find more on iharrow.com from the past couple of years.

    I’d agree £23k sounds like good value, but then again, perhaps you get what you pay for…?

  6. Owen

    Perhaps but surely if that’s the case then it means they are improving it as they find issues and that’s only a good thing in my books, no website is perfect on launch. I don’t know the size of the team or the resources available to them, all I can see is that it looks much better than before and is easier to use and compared to other council websites, as a harrow resident I’m happy with it. Any new website will have issues when launched, look at the BBC when launched , google for Christ sake has millions and half their stuff don’t work, I have reported stuff to them and nothing happens. I won’t rant too much about this, as I said I work in IT and I think they have done a good job for 23k. I think when commenting on things like this you need to look at the whole picture and a fair article on findings should be reported. As a resident I’m more interested in when my bin is being picked up and problems with graffiti rather than searching who my councillor is.

  7. Susan Hall

    Well since I have been mentioned I thought I had better find myself on the site, yesterday I was not there (Morning) and now I am. I have however checked on a couple of my colleagues and they are as yet unavailable. It is no secret that the IT in Harrow has in my groups view been a nightmare. Despite the fact that we spoke out very loudly in the first place against the contract we take no pleasure whatsoever in the fact that we were correct. The IT failures have inconvenienced both our staff and our residents. Labour decisions have been dreadful for the past 3 years – just take a look at the filthy streets, the unlocked parks the fiasco over the dog bins and I could go on. Residents please make it clear to your Labour Councillors that you deserve better. Harrow deserves much better!

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