12:00PM, Wednesday 01 December 2021
Currently, residents can only access council services on the RBWM website
A resident proposal for a new Royal Borough app was well received by councillors this week.
Accessible via a smartphone, Andrew Ingram’s idea involves an app which would allow residents to access council services from their handheld devices.
Although a council website already exists, there have been concerns in the past over accessibility of the site, particularly when accessing it from a smartphone.
An app would allow residents to report issues in their area, find out their bin collection date or manage their council tax, to name a few.
Presenting the idea to councillors at Monday’s corporate overview and scrutiny panel, Mr Ingram said he had found that 87 per cent of UK adults use a smartphone in his research.
He added: “I think the Royal Borough has got a communication gap.
“What I keep hearing in the various roles that I play, is ‘well the borough never said anything about that, no one’s ever told me’ – I think all local boroughs share that problem.
“I think apps are better than websites because they’re a push technology; it means that, as long as you don’t overload people, they can select what to have sent to them.
“It could be really important stuff about bombs going off, or it could be fairly trivial stuff about parking at schools.”
He continued to say that ‘lots of boroughs’ utilise apps, and said that other councils had saved money after reports came via app rather than traditional methods.
Councillors were unanimous in their support for the suggestion, with Cllrs Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) and Julian Sharpe (Con, Ascot & Sunninghill) both praising it as a ‘great idea’.
Cllr Lynne Jones (OWRA, Old Windsor) was also supportive of the idea, but questioned whether the council had the ‘capability’ to follow it through.
“That’s where I’m slightly worried that we might fall down, because obviously we’re going to need investment to do this,” said Cllr Jones.
“I think it’s an absolutely brilliant idea, I think it should be a priority and it’s a really good way of communicating with our residents and how they can communicate with us.
“But I think we need to ensure that we get financial information brought back as well as the nuts and bolts of an app because there must be a cost to develop this on officer time and whether we’ve got the capability in-house to do that.”
Councillors unanimously agreed to note the report paving the way for a ‘discovery’ session on the potential app within six months.