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Well where I start.....
Well my in-laws have been living in the same street and same house for 37 years, with there road being a CV1 they have permit parking where the council will send out a form for you to order your pass yearly for the cost of £20 (To park in your own street)
They received there form in September and filled in with a cheque for £20 as requested as always every year, 3 Weeks on we are still waiting for the pass by which point they have received 4 parking tickets!
We arranged meeting for them with the counsellor to discuss why all the other 34 houses with students living had received there passes and along with my in-laws one other resident of 54 years had not?
They were told they were being sent from London as they have to be marked with a special water mark and that if they sent there parking tickets through to him marked for his special attention he would clear them! Nice I thought that's until we got home to find we had another one even though we and the council had informed the traffic wardens of the problem awaiting the passes.
THEN.... The post falls the next morning with a letter stating they have a fine of £70 plus the outstanding tickets and if they were not paid in full within 28 days legal action would be taken.
At this I was personally cross so I went to the council myself to ask
What was going on?
Could I see the counsellor?
Could I book an appointment to see him?
Where we any closer to finding out where the passes were
Why could they not send up a pay and pick up system like they used to have?
Only to be told the counsellor was not available for 2 weeks and they could not set up this service as they do not have the funds to cover it.
With it now being 12/11/08 we received the pass on the 5th and still awaiting to hear whether we have to pay the fines.
I find in general the council were no help at all they didn't seem to understand why we were annoyed and why we are refusing to pay the fines.
Only to be then told to park else where - WHY can we not park outside our own front door?
Why was the counsellor not available for 2 weeks - Because he was on holiday!!!
The council have not been free to help us since and we have had no correspondence of any sort.
...a message saying, "This facility is no longer available". Not to worry, though – it's not as though the search facility is a particularly useful function of a website, is it? No, I hardly ever want to search a site if I'm looking for something specific. I'd much rather browse around for a while before eventually discovering that the information wasn't there in the first place. What better way to waste a few minutes/hours? (delete as appropriate) Anyway, I suppose I'd better describe the website a bit rather than just heap praise upon it. First impressions then. Well, on loading the homepage, we're greeted with the traditional emblem of Coventry (a silhouetted Lady Godiva on her horse) on a delightful yellow background. Arranged around this logo are a number of hyperlinks, which I originally assumed were the sections the site has been divided into. These are as follows: • Services for Citizens • Council Details • Full Index • Neighbours • Tourism and Leisure • Business Support • Communicate • Introduction to Site For some reason, the first section's title reminds me of the film 'Starship Troopers' – I can't imagine why! Anyway, underneath this opening arrangement, we're invited to "take a peep!" at what's new on the site, accompanied by a weird anim-gif type thing. Looking at it again now, I still haven't the faintest idea what the designers were thinking of with this animation - it's ugly and just doesn't fit in with the rest of the page at all. If you're really curious, it looks like a sort of futuristic guillotine that someone's sticking his head through. I told you it was weird. At the bottom of the page is a footer that tells me that "these pages are best viewed with a modern browser such as Netscape Navigator release 2
or Microsoft Internet Explorer". Fortunately I've recently upgraded my browser, so it's now fully compatible with these modern requirements, but please bear this detail in mind should you ever wish to visit the site (and why would you not?). Also in the footer is a disclaimer, a contact e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org), and a date of 2nd February 2001 that indicates when the last update was made. Nice to know we have up-to-the-minute information at our fingertips. Okay, I'll stop being a sarcastic git. Honest. The first page I looked at was the one entitled 'Introduction to Site'. Here, we learn the possible reason for some of the design 'features' described above: "The current content is fairly informal, being an interim arrangement while the Council's strategy is defined". We're also introduced to the navigation system employed by the site, which consists of a menu-bar of icons running along the top of the screen. The Godiva logo will return us to the homepage, the 'back' and 'forward' icons move sequentially through a section whenever appropriate, and a button with a question mark will take you to the aforementioned (non-functioning) search page. There's also another icon that supposedly returns you to the starting point of the section you're currently looking at. Before you stop reading, I'll tell you now that I'm not going to bother detailing each individual section of the site. That'd be extremely boring (for both of us) and you'd probably rate me NU before you even got to the end. That's not the major reason why I'm not going to do it though. Oh no. It's because the 'sections' don't appear to be proper sections at all. In fact, all that most of them seem to consist of is a long list of hyperlinks; the majority of which go to external websites. That's not to say there isn't much
information on the site – there seems to be quite a lot hidden away behind the clumsy interface, some of which may actually be fairly recent. What's annoying is the difficulty in navigating around the site to find it. After going to the 'Services for Citizens' page, for instance, I'm presented with a list of links, the first of which is an 'A to Z'. Not an 'A to Z' of this section mind, but of the entire website. Yet the hyperlink is grouped together with a list of press releases and documents related to this specific section. Also, the only thing the 'A to Z' has on it is the different council services and their relevant telephone numbers. That's it. Also in this list is a link to 'Social Services', which is actually a separate area of the site, with a completely different design and, presumably, designer. This was last updated on the 13th February 2001, so it seems it's slightly more up-to-date than the main site, but not by much. Still, there are plenty of useful resources here, covering a whole range of social issues. Another area of the site that isn't immediately obvious is the Best Value Performance Plan 2000/01. Now, I'd imagine this part of the site would be quite useful for any council employees working on their Best Value plans at the moment, so it's a shame it isn't more clearly signposted from the front page. Also, despite the misleading date in the heading, this section apparently hasn't been updated since 13th June 2000. Tsk. I don't really know what the council thinks these 'citizens' are going to be looking for on their website, but if it's consultative documents, performance indicators and out-of-date questionnaires, well, they're going to be in heaven! There is the thrilling 'Street Watch' section though, where I found out about the council's aim to respond to complaints of stray dogs within one working day.
Whether this aim has changed since 1997 isn't made clear. In my opinion, the biggest problem with this website is a complete lack of cohesion throughout. Hopefully this'll be the first thing that's addressed when the council finally defines their web strategy, although the lack of up-to-date and relevant information should also be high on their list. To be fair, they have asked for people's views on how they can make better use of the Internet. They also welcome suggestions for what could be included on the site in the future. Losing the guillotine thing would be a great start... Oh yes, I nearly forgot... they really need to get that search facility working too.