Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Tameside Council spend thousands on an iPhone app

Once again, Tameside Council is demonstrating its beacon status of wasting taxpayers' money. You may remember my last article about Tameside Council's 60 Second News where I briefly mentioned their £36,000 virtual town hall. Well, since that was reported, they have commissioned an iPhone application at a cost of £5,731 to the taxpayer – an application that has only managed a paltry 222 downloads since its launch in August.

The ‘Buy with Confidence’ application allows people to find information which is readily available on the web - something which iPhones and other modern smartphones are perfectly capable of doing already. The user inputs their postcode and finds local businesses which have been approved by Tameside Council's trading standards department. Businesses need to apply to partake in the scheme, yet only 170 in the borough have bothered to apply since its launch last year as part of the Tameside Works First scheme - which has already absorbed £12m of the council’s budget.

Tameside Council's ‘Buy with Confidence’ application was funded by IDeA's Local Innovation Awards Scheme. How it is innovative is beyond me, as there are already many location-based applications which allow people to find what they need nearest to them. Rather, this is yet another case of the public sector thinking it can reinvent the wheel when there are already many open source or commercial alternatives already available.

According to the FOI response I got, the project was a joint effort done in-house and with a contractor. 216.5 hours were spent developing the application at a cost of £4295. A further two hours were spent by a systems analyst at a cost of £41.46, and £59 was paid to Apple to register the application. It's unfortunate then that Tameside Council skimped on Quality Assurance testing, as just days after the release they had to release a bugfix which corrected issues which "effected (sic) some users where distance information was not accurate" - it kind of defeats the object of having a location-based application if distance information isn't correct. A further fix was "changed database updating mechanism to automatically check and prompt for updates." That's funny, because Tameside Council had included that functionality in the original specification document.

Despite spending a further £1335 on a radio advertisement and another YouTube video campaign - which to date has only gained 120 views - the application has managed to attract a pathetic 222 downloads as of the 19th of September 2010. Considering the application was launched on the 25th of August, that's an average of less than 9 downloads per day. Given Tameside's population of 214,000 people, this would suggest – at best – that the application is used by a mere 0.1% of the population. The aim of the application was to reduce the amount of leaflets and printed directories the council produces. So if you divide the cost by the number of downloads, it costs £25.82 per download - nowhere near as much as it would cost to print a leaflet or directory.

You would have thought that Tameside Council would have learnt its lesson by now by not spending money on yet more frivolous nonsense just to make itself appear innovative and revolutionary among its public sector peers and to give itself a pat on the back at expensive awards ceremonies. What really matters is what the public think - and given the lack of interest from the public on these schemes, you would have thought Tameside Council would have given up by now.

Well done to the newly formed Tameside Tax Payers Alliance for uncovering this information. To read the full article including relevant web links click here.

To register with or join the Tax Payers Alliance click here. This is a good cause and the Tameside branch of the Tax Payers Alliance is very lucky to have a young, energetic and very formidable chairman. I think we will be hearing lots more from the Tameside Tax Payers Alliance in the near future. Tameside Citizen


Tom Hatton said...

More excellent work from Tameside Taxpayers' Alliance. I'm sure there is so much more waste to uncover. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Hear hear to the TTPA

Joe Ronson said...

Ten years of Labour's massive overspending and chronic waste are 95% responsible for the dredful debt millstone Britain now has to deal with. All the socialist Bulls**t about the banks and the bailout is a device to try and evade resposibility, the vast bulk of the debt existed before the financial crisis began.

The longest day said...

This is it everybody up to Longdendale,everything is ready our opponents are fast asleep(again) we have work to do.

tax payer said...

Yes excellent work is it true these people have cost us £130,000 finding this out if so keep up the good work Toms OK he pays nothing towards this £130,000.

Police spend £100k on story telling sessions said...

Came across this nonsense. I just love this country you know!

My Tellys 3D said...

iphones are the future,well for at least a year until something else comes out.
Move with the times and keep up to date,nowt wrong with that.

£130,000 well spent said...

You're right tax payer, all government monitoring bodies, particularly on spending should be scrapped, because as we all know our leaders are completely trustworthy and look after our money as if it's their own. What a dickhead.

CON-DEM CUT said...

Joe Ronson have you seen the headlines in Ireland today, guess who caused the problems, not Gordon Brown it was the banks,just like all the other countries including the richest in the world.
Tories are using the situation to hammer the working class and hand everything over to the spives who back them.

Not me Gov said...

What's Ireland got to do with it? If it was up to Labour/Gordon Brown Britain would have been in the Euro years ago, massively accentuating our current problems.
95% of the debt existed BEFORE the banking crisis because of Labour's ten year utterly reckless spending spree. No contririon whatsoever for this from Labour just the pseudo socialist claptrap, 'Blame the evil capitalists and exploiters (who we've been in bed with for the last thirteen years). The people most responsible in Britain are those who FAILED TO REGULATE the banks, who was that? Labour.

Cost Cutting Conservative said...

The banks have been delivering billions in profits which are taxed upon. The banks have been bailing out the public sector for years.

There are scandals and there are... said...

The main gripe it seems is that there were problems with the app shortly after the launch. Isn't this what happens with all major software launches? Didn't it happen with the iPhone4?

This app cost just around 5p per Tameside household to develop and launch. I would think that if they develop it to include the ability to pay bills, renew library books etc, then it will pay for itself handsomely in years to come. Isn't this the way technology going?

I hate Labour's control of Tameside Council with a passion, but in this instance the TPA have been a little to hasty to look for a scandal where there probably isn't one.

Anonymous said...

Well done Janet,one issue Tories fail again see you at the Tesco opening.
BNP in melt down even the greens beat them 80 miserable votes ,oh dear lets see what the strange one says on the blogs over to you Westy

Reimer said...

"The people most responsible in Britain are those who FAILED TO REGULATE the banks, who was that? Labour."

The uselessness of the Police does not exonerate the scallies - ditto Labour and the banks (I'd execute both sides)

Keith Flint said...

Dreadful result for the minor Parties with less than 10% between them. An even worse result for democracy with 70% of voters (AGAIN) not bothering to turn up. Labour's massive, everything but the kitchen sink, campaign resulted in one in every 6.25 of the electorate supporting them. This is despite the fact that every labour supporter in the Ward knew how close it was likely to be. If the Tories had made a similar effort they might well have won.
This result is symptomatic of modern British democracy where the main Parties win by default, chronic voter apapthy, indifference and above all, ignorance.
On a local level what does John Bell have to do, or rather not do, to get the bullet?

James Irwin said...

Labour deserve votes. The latest figures show that the total public debt passed £1trillion (1 m illion million) in March. The interest payments this year alone will be £40 billion (40 thousand million), equivalent toto entire national defence budget.
The figure does not include the vast public sector pension deficit, totally untackled under labour, or the massive millstone of the Private Finance Initiative (they're on the other set of books). So the true debt is between £4 and £5 trillion.
Under Gordon Brown's leadership Labour borrowed £45 million (that's half a billion) A DAY.
Contrition? Not a chance, it was the evil capitalist's and banker's (you know, the ones Labour totally failed to regulate) fault.
They're like children who smash things up and when caught deny they had anything to do with it.

Anonymous said...

5p per household? What sort of prat could write that?

Start here: What % of residents in Tameside have iphones? Then, what sort of those households want to use the Council's approved trader's scheme? Of those, (probably about 10), who would bother to clutter their phone up with another app what they could just browse the Council's website?

The only people who have downloaded the app are those that built it, those that have tested it, and their bosses and their 'mums and dads'.

The Council are there to serve all of Tameside's residents, not just a tiny proportion. This is driven by ego, and the need to win prizes (awarded by similarly dull people) to prop-up those egos.

M. Adrulers said...

Anonymous, the Tesco all the backhanders went in for isn't built yet. IKEA anyone?
TMBC won't be happy until there are half a million people in the Borough, destroying everyone's quality of life. This will be accompanied by the complete traffic gridlock they are desperate to create. Don't worry the raibound crap that is the tram will save us, despite the fact it can only ever move a miniscule proportion of the moving public.