A new Oneplace website has been swamped by demand as the centrepiece of the Comprehensive Area Assessment of local public services in England.
The site includes independent information about how councils, police, health services and others are tackling the major issues based on the assessment of six independent watchdogs.
It was launched overnight to coincide with the publication of the CAA results but by mid-morning was reporting: “The Oneplace website is busy. Unfortunately the Oneplace website is experiencing high volumes of traffic, please try again later. We apologise for the inconvenience.”
Despuite the teething troubles, the chairman of the Audit Commission, Michael O’Higgins said, ‘The Oneplace website has been an instant success, with over half a million calls on the server in its first few hours of operation.”
The Audit Commission, Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorates of Constabulary, Prisons and Probation and Ofsted have all contributed to Oneplace.
The site contains detailed information on health, children, environment, crime and housing in 152 areas nationwide.
It replaces the traditional league tables set up by the Audit Commission, which ranked county and unitary councils nationwide on 1 to 4 stars.
Now flags indicate an areas’s own priorities for action with links to council performance graded 1 to 4, or poor to excellent, on organisation and finance.
Mr O’Higgins said a key feature of the site was that it is written in plain English.
“Armed with Oneplace facts and figures people can shine a light on local priorities, enabling them to hold local service providers to account and check they are getting value for money. It also enables people to see examples of innovation elsewhere, hopefully leading to a quicker spread of best practice,” he said.
Communities secretary John Denham said: “The new assessment system is putting more information about the state of local services into the hands of the public than ever before.
“It is just the start of our efforts to give local people far better access to information held by local public organisations so they can challenge, compare or scrutinise their local services in order to drive up standards in their area.”
But Shadow Communities secretary Caroline Spelman said:: “Labour has created an army of clipboard inspectors to monitor councils, which has done nothing to stop council tax doubling or frontline services like weekly bin collections being cut.