Headlines: March 27th, 2006

Seventy-six local authorities have stated their interest in becoming early adopters of products developed through Government Connect, the 12 million pound project that aims to provide a common infrastructure allowing local councils to provide secure and effective provision of online services. Now, following its successful first stage, local authority sponsorship of the programme is to switch from Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council to the North West e-Government Group, under the sponsorship of Tameside Council.The Minister for Local e-Government Jim Fitzpatrick, said progress made on the scheme meant it was ready to move to the next stage towards its target of rolling out the services to around 300 local authorities by April 2007 and to all authorities a year later. The first phase had identified opportunities for improvements to service delivery and efficiencies, many of which relied on increased joint working by central and local government.The move to the North West e-Government Group was a reflection of this and there would also be increased involvement from key central Government departments. Mr. Fitzpatrick congratulated Bolton on the work it had done. “The project is now entering a new and exciting phase and we have agreed with all parties that it makes sense to increase its profile with NWeGG leading to develop a regional dimension. NWeGG is an established partnership and we are confident that their work will soon deliver products that will be of real value to local authorities,” he said.

Bolton had been the lead local authority in a partnership involving councils, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the e-Government Unit at the cabinet Office. Bernard Knight, Bolton’s Chief Executive, said the council’s work had ensured that joining up local and central Government was an achievable goal.

Janet Callender, the Chief Executive of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council and Chair of the North West e-Government Group said the opportunity to continue the development of Government Connect was the perfect platform from which to build a generic solution for the whole of local governmen