Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council established a Community Information Strategy in 1995 with two distinct elements - a physical Network and a Community Information Programme. Capital Challenge Funding was secured in late 1996 and a three-year programme commenced in April 1997.

The aims and objectives of the Community Information Strategy were defined as follows:

"The people and businesses of Knowsley should be equipped with access to modern information and learning systems to educated, inform, equip and empower them to participate fully in the modern economy and enjoy and improving quality of life."

So far there have been over 50 projects with over £22.5m capital investment commitment over 3 years and 1500 public access PCs at 160+ locations.

One of those projects was the Housing Repairs Web page developed in partnership with CONNECT, part of the University of Liverpool during 1998. The objective of the project was to give tenants the opportunity to log repair faults electronically, via the Knowsley Council Web Site, at a time convenient to them. The service also helped to move the Council closer towards meeting the Government's target of making services available electronically 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Tenants report faults, or repair requests, interactively by way of an easy-to-use pictorial system. The tenants click on photographs of items around their house to indicate what is wrong and then record other information such as name, address, rent book number (for identification verification) and a convenient time a visit. The information logged is summarised and then automatically emailed directly to the Council depot for a work order to be raised and actioned.

A wide variety of repair requests can be logged including:

Bathroom, kitchen, glazing, heating, electrics, floors and drains.

The opening screen is shown below.

The system has received national acclaim winning the prestigious awards from the Local Government Association for Enhancing Public Service Provision and the Housing Corporation for Innovation in Housing. The site attracts over 500 hits a month with 15 repairs per week from tenants.

The success and interest raised in Housing Repairs encouraged the Department to make the service available in two other electronic formats:

These new avenues have been developed with partner organisations including CONNECT, Adshell and Telewest and further widen tenant's options for accessing Council services.

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