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£32k a Day For Birmingham Council Website

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the you're-doing-it-wrong dept.

Government 150

An anonymous reader writes "Birmingham Wired have uncovered that Birmingham City Council spend on average £32,000 a day maintaining a council website that has cost the tax-payer over £48 million to date, while councils nationwide prepare to say goodbye to 26,000 jobs due to budget deficits. Capita, a London based outsourcing company, states on their website: 'To date we've invested £48.4m in a combination of staff training, network upgrades, server replacements, hardware and software — and we continue to drive efficiency through innovation.'"

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Shhhhh (5, Funny)

Lije Baley (88936) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550846)

It's just this kind of nonsense that keeps us computer folk employed.

Mercenary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551040)

It's just this kind of nonsense that keeps us computer folk employed.

Evil's ok as long as you get paid right?

Re:Mercenary (3, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551078)

Yep.

Re:Mercenary (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 4 years ago | (#33552430)

Actually, it's "Evil is okay if and only if you get paid for it."

Re:Shhhhh (5, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551286)

I have a T-shirt from think geek that sums it up:

"Technical Support: Your ignorance is my job security"

I wonder if this is the employee uniform at Capita?

Re:Shhhhh (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551322)

Do they have an app to compute their salary in real time?

Re:Shhhhh (4, Informative)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551374)

I live in Birmingham, I know people that work in IT at the council.

IT was taken over by Capitia, they also have contracts for many other councils and government departments. I have never known a corporate company to be so wasteful and incompetent.

Biggest news last years was the re-write of the web site. Was first estimated to be cost jut over £600k, and was to be competed in March 2006. However, Capita over-run and completed it mid 2009 at a cost of £2.2 million.

http://www.birminghampost.net/news/politics-news/2009/08/04/cost-of-new-birmingham-city-council-website-spirals-to-2-8m-65233-24307674/ [birminghampost.net]

Re:Shhhhh (2, Interesting)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551390)

Oh, the cost I stated above was for the redesign. I'm sure you can make your own mind up about how it was such a huge failure.

http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/ [birmingham.gov.uk]

Re:Shhhhh (2, Informative)

Flossymike (461164) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551406)

Very curious. Why all the white space in the page source?

Re:Shhhhh (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551420)

It used to be, why is there so much white space in the content. :S

Re:Shhhhh (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551618)

Damn. 16889 lines of "code", about 99% empty lines. Maybe they're paid by the line?

Re:Shhhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551732)

The thing is, the lines aren't all actually empty. Do a ctrl-A when looking at the source, and you can see many lines actually contain plenty of space or tab characters.

As well as pay by the number of lines, I am wondering if someone is using file sizes to justify that work has been done? I know I've deceived clueless management with less sophisticated techniques. Or maybe it is just normal council ineptitude which has lead to the use of a truly terrible content management system, installed by fraudsters taking advantage of the inept, employing idiots who aren't even aware that HTML doesn't look exactly like how it is presented in Front Page.

Re:Shhhhh (1)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | more than 4 years ago | (#33552332)

Or maybe they use it to come up with bogus bandwidth figures so they get paid more.

Re:Shhhhh (3, Funny)

hldn (1085833) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551754)

the source code is actually a program written in whitespace [wikipedia.org]

Re:Shhhhh (1)

omar.sahal (687649) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551766)

I've heard that web designers do this so its hard to copy their work!

Re:Shhhhh (2, Insightful)

Hero Zzyzzx (525153) | more than 4 years ago | (#33552276)

I'm betting they're building this in a framework (though "framework" may be too grand a word) that mixes the presentation and logic layer. All that whitespace represents branches in the code (conditionals, database queries, etc.) that weren't executed for that particular page view - or were executed and nothing was output to the screen in that line number. If you don't write your erb tags correctly in Rails, it'll emit spurious whitespace into the source, too. If you weren't writing your logic in your controllers or models (bad!) and not asking erb to collapse whitespace, yeah, you'd get a ton of empty lines.

Oh god. If that's true, this site is an untemplatted nightmare under the covers. Worst case: "Hey, can we change 'Latest News' to just 'news?'" "Sure - just edit line 6643, but don't throw in a syntax error or you'll break the *entire f'ing site.*"

Re:Shhhhh (1)

neorush (1103917) | more than 4 years ago | (#33552414)

Coldfusion, "Whitespace Suppression" turned off looks exactly like this, poorly coded rails does to....would also explain some of the cost...since ColdFusion licenses are ridiculous. All though the headers say PHP 4....I've seen some shops change this for a little obscurity.

First word... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33552072)

First word in the "Service Menu" is Waste.

Re:Shhhhh (4, Insightful)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551446)

They're called Crapita by Private Eye for a reason. However public service IT in the last 3 decades is a long story of waste, incompetence and stupidity. Hooray for privatisation - a worse service for a higher cost!

Re:Shhhhh (4, Insightful)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 4 years ago | (#33552282)

As always, capitalism only works when all sides are peers in the transaction. That means that the person, or, in this case, the government bureaucrat, who looks for private companies to tender on a contract needs to be aware of what they're asking for. They need to understand what the transaction entails, and they need to understand the alternatives (whether hiring someone to do it in-house, or it's simply the competition in the marketplace). Any time you are at an informational disadvantage, you open yourself up to being taken for a ride. There's a reason why government tenders generally include the clause "we reserve the right to go with any vendor, not just the lowest bid" or something like that: so that they can weed out crackpot offers.

It seems to me, then, that the person in Birmingham's city government who decided to go with this outfit was at an informational disadvantage and could thus be duped by incompetent and/or malicious corporations. They apparently took the lowest bid, not the best bid.

Re:Shhhhh (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551458)

Gosh. Must be a bloody lovely website for that kind of money. I think there must be a problem with the authorization. Private companies will charge as much as they can get. The council is to blame and the person at the council authorizing such expenditure; he/she must have been getting kickbacks. Just conjecture, mind.

Re:Shhhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551532)

A corporate company, eh? Thanks for clarifying that - I'm sure we all thought they had bunches of squaddies or bands of actors running around faffing with computers.

Re:Shhhhh (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551810)

I guess if they didn't have a website people would complain about having to phone up and wait.

If it wasn't websites it would be call centres.

Of course, the cost is over the top even for Birmingham (the second city).

Re:Shhhhh (1)

chewy_fruit_loop (320844) | more than 4 years ago | (#33552110)

They probably are including the cost of hardware, support and services such as bill payment in the total, not just the setup cost
Without a breakdown of what that cost is for, this is all meaningless

efficiently... (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550848)

filling their pockets, you gotta admire the chutzpah of the people who would actually get away with charging that sort of money

Re:efficiently... (2, Informative)

1 a bee (817783) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550900)

filling their pockets, you gotta admire the chutzpah of the people who would actually get away with charging that sort of money

Apparently this same chutzpah caused the story to break in the first place. FTA:

Capita, a London based outsourcing company state on their website: To date we’ve invested £48.4m in a combination of staff training, network upgrades, server replacements, hardware and software – and we continue to drive efficiency through innovation.

Re:efficiently... (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551034)

They aren't lying though, they do drive efficiency... right through the floor. And I'm pretty sure that it really does take a pretting innovative mind to find new ways to piss 48 million pounds up a single pole.

Re:efficiently... (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551480)

just why is chutzpah such a popular word in England in the past few years? Awful word. Can't stand it. What ever happened to good old fashioned balls, bottle etc.? F@#k even cojones would be better.

Re:efficiently... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551558)

I'm English and I had to look up the meaning of that word...

Re:efficiently... (4, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551586)

Probably because Yiddish is the best human language for expressing outrage. It even passes German in the ability to combine insulting someone with spitting on them.

Re:efficiently... (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#33552108)

That must be why, historically speaking, the Jewish people have always been so popular...

At least they didn't use frontpage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33550852)

I think all the money went to the white lines addiction of there HTML editor.

Re:At least they didn't use frontpage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33550878)

There? Or there're? Or their? Huh? What?

Re:At least they didn't use frontpage (5, Funny)

CdBee (742846) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550948)

We're dealing with Brummies here, lets not pretend that spelling is the most important problem they face.... Vuuurrrrrrrrry noyce....

Re:At least they didn't use frontpage (1)

Jstlook (1193309) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551128)

I think all the money went to the white lines addiction of there HTML editor.

I don't know about that. Their editors clearly haven't been taking advantage of too much white powder, or they would have gotten to your quote already!

Re:At least they didn't use frontpage (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551596)

They know that the server will be using compression, so it won't waste much bandwidth, but every single client will have to burn CPU cycles decompressing it. And they own shares in the electricity companies...

bad story (4, Informative)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550854)

The summary is disingenuous: the cost is for their IT, not just a single HTML website.

Re:bad story (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550866)

Most likely it is city intranet, and IT services.

Re:bad story (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33550882)

not only that, but the 48m is the amount the outsourcer has spent on improvements to their entire operation, not how much the council has spent.

The whole article is at best, poorly informed, at worst, outright lies.

Re:bad story (1)

jginspace (678908) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551082)

the 48m is the amount the outsourcer has spent on improvements to their entire operation

It's the amount that Service Birmingham has spent - Service Birmingham is a joint venture between Capita (see summary) and Birmingham City Council. See my reply to GP for link.

Re:bad story - I must agree (3, Informative)

Elvis77 (633162) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551090)

I love a "The Government are Idiots" story as good as anyone but this one just doesn't make sense. Last year the Birmingham Post (http://www.birminghampost.net/news/politics-news/2009/08/04/cost-of-new-birmingham-city-council-website-spirals-to-2-8m-65233-24307674/) stuck it to the council over a 383% growth in the cost of the website... it went from £580,000 to £2.8m. Where does the £48.4m come from? It comes from Capita's case study which IS NOT about the web site (http://www.capita.co.uk/about-us/Pages/Birmingham.aspx) Birmingham Council may or may not be doing the smart thing and Capita might be ripping off the good people of Birmingham... if it's like City Councils where I live then they are probably screwing up badly but this article is a load of crap

Re:bad story - I must agree (4, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551122)

Capita might be ripping off the good people of Birmingham

Crapita never do anything without ripping off good people. Here in Coventry, they've installed voice stress analysis software to attempt to detect people lying when they claim benefits... of course the fact that VSA is essentially snake oil hasn't stopped them spending millions on the piece of software this paper [scribd.com] was written about. Well worth reading if you want to know the kind of junk our councils spend our hard earned cash on.

Re: crapita (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551254)

Anyone who follows Private Eye will be well aware of what Crapita does - it apparently exists merely to feed off the weaknesses in our democratic system.

Re:bad story - I must agree (4, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551604)

Crapita never do anything without ripping off good people

That's not fair. They do not practice any such discrimination, they're happy to rip off anyone - good or bad.

Re:bad story - I must agree (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33552006)

Maybe they should use it on themselves.

Re:bad story (1)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550898)

References! If you don't have them, then we have to take the article as valid.

"To date we’ve invested £48.4m in a combination of staff training, network upgrades, server replacements, hardware and software – and we continue to drive efficiency through innovation"

This could mean anything. Also if it is all the IT services for the city council, does that make it much better? Look at the website yourself!

http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/

HEY!! (-1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551098)

I saw what you did there! You substituted some foreign city for http://www.informationbirmingham.com/ [informatio...ingham.com] and http://www.birmingham-alabama-living.com/government/ [birmingham...living.com] Alright, I'm a smartass. But, when I saw Birmingham, my first thought was Alabama, LOL

Re:bad story (2, Insightful)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551206)

If you're taking the article at face value, then you should take the fact that the 48.4m is the money to date Capita have invested in something as the truth.

The article is just a bunch of big sounding unrelated numbers thrown together to effect a sense of outrage.

Re:bad story (4, Informative)

jginspace (678908) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550972)

The summary is disingenuous: the cost is for their IT, not just a single HTML website.

Could be:
http://www.capita.co.uk/about-us/Pages/Birmingham.aspx [capita.co.uk]

Service Birmingham is our joint venture with Birmingham City Council, Europe's largest local authority, established in April 2006 to provide the Council's information and communications technology (ICT) services. Substantial investment and innovation have created an all-new platform that underpins the Council's ambitious business transformation programme. To date we've invested £48.4m in a combination of staff training, network upgrades, server replacements, hardware and software - and we continue to drive efficiency through innovation.

The cost of the site itself was covered a few months back - excellent reporting from Heather Brooke and friends:
http://podnosh.com/blog/2010/05/27/the-report-on-birmingham-gov-uk-is-published/ [podnosh.com]
http://helpmeinvestigate.com/investigations/49-when-can-we-expect-a-new-birmingham-gov-website [helpmeinvestigate.com]

Re:bad story (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551828)

I'm pretty sure Hertforshire, Surrey, Lancashire, Hampshire, Essex, Kent and the Greater London Authority are larger than Birmingham, and that's before I start looking across the Channel.

Re:bad story (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551890)

"Largest local authority", county councils aren't comparable as each district within them has its own council authority.

London, for instance, is split into 32 boroughs. There is no subdivision of the Birmingham area by even-more-local-councils. Like it or not that claim of theirs is true.

Re:bad story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33550988)

Bummer; because I was thinking of offering up a comparitively sweet deal - I'll host it for half!

32k per day only? Meh, amateurs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551132)

The previous Greek goverment paid last year 1,5 million euros to reconstruct the parliament's website. Just the website. Oh, and the contractor who did the job dissolved his company afterwards (i wonder why). No one has heard of him since then :P

Re:32k per day only? Meh, amateurs (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551428)

Well, Capita spent more than twice that on the Birmingham City Council web site, and thy still have contracts both with this council, and many other councils and government departments.

Re:32k per day only? Meh, amateurs (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551832)

That would be the equivalent of just the "Council and Democracy" section of the Birmingham City Council website.

48 million pounds / population 1 million (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33550856)

thats 48 pounds each, isn't that more than a subscription for cable television?

Re:48 million pounds / population 1 million (3, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551136)

Probably. I don't think a subscription weighs that much.

Alternative ... (1)

jginspace (678908) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550870)

Definitely issues - see 3rd and 5th results on Google for "Birmingham City Council website":
http://steflewandowski.com/2009/09/why-build-a-new-site-for-birmingham-city-council/ [steflewandowski.com]
http://www.bccdiy.com/ [bccdiy.com]
And their page won't open for me - I've got a slightly misbehaving proxy server here

Malware Warning... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550910)

The website at steflewandowski.com contains elements from the site inlovebot.com, which appears to host malware - software that can hurt your computer or otherwise operate without your consent. Just visiting a site that contains malware can infect your computer.

Re:Malware Warning... (1)

jginspace (678908) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550926)

Could you be more specific? I've done a view source and checked NoScript and RequestPolicy - nothing there.

Re:Malware Warning... (1)

kill-1 (36256) | more than 4 years ago | (#33552436)

http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=steflewandowski.com

Re:Malware Warning... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551116)

Advisory provided by Google Safe Browsing Diagnostic page for steflewandowski.com/2009 What is the current listing status for steflewandowski.com/2009? This site is not currently listed as suspicious. What happened when Google visited this site? Of the 1 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 0 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2010-07-23, and suspicious content was never found on this site within the past 90 days. This site was hosted on 1 network(s) including AS10532 (RACKSPACE). Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware? Over the past 90 days, steflewandowski.com/2009 did not appear to function as an intermediary for the infection of any sites. Has this site hosted malware? No, this site has not hosted malicious software over the past 90 days. Next steps: * Return to the previous page. * If you are the owner of this web site, you can request a review of your site using Google Webmaster Tools. More information about the review process is available in Google's Webmaster Help Center. Just turn off safe browsing, unless you're on Windows.

I just took a look at their site (5, Funny)

Urd.Yggdrasil (1127899) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550872)

I just took a look at their site, which I thought must be amazing for that kind of money, and I found this: <meta name="ICBM" content="52.48002, -1.902805"> What exactly Birmingham City Council up to!? Perhaps the money is going someplace a bit more nefarious.

ICBM Address (4, Informative)

jginspace (678908) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550912)

Yes you're definitely on to something:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICBM_address [wikipedia.org]

Re:ICBM Address (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551064)

Google now does this in real time. 38.8911 -77.0106

Re:ICBM Address (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551636)

Well you could have given us the link :) ... its an exact hit :)

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=52.48002,-1.902805

Re:I just took a look at their site (2, Insightful)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551652)

that's an old name for the geo tags - you muppet,

You Fail It (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550880)

'To date we've invested £48.4m in a combination of staff training, network upgrades, server replacements, hardware and software - and we continue to drive efficiency through innovation.'

You fail it.

I'm sorry.

There is just no excuse, no making this better.

Try again next life.

Glad to work in IT (1)

kainosnous (1753770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33550902)

This kind of thing makes me happy to do IT work. In an economy where people can't afford the basic necessities, they still seem to be willing to spend money on technology. As I see it, there are a few reasons for this. First, websites, computers, and the like can be seen as giving an advantage which can be helpful in tough times. Also , it's one of the improvements to a business that at the moment doesn't have huge government price tags and red tape. That is, until the EPA decides that servers cause dangerous emissions. Of course, the most important things is that computers and technology are still cool and people will always want the latest new toy.

I see this as yet another bubble, and I plan to hold on until it bursts. I'll fight against the government spending money on such wasteful things all day. However, I plan to be there to catch the profits as they fall down.

Re:Glad to work in IT (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551208)

Small and medium business I do work for are not spending on upgrades. It's all break/fix replacement. It's getting so bad for some, they won't even upgrade their backup software and hardware requirements. If only they can keep limping along for another year they say...

A storm is brewing. The handwriting is on the wall. I predict an increase in stories posted on Slashdot about how many companies have suffered data loss from the recession.

Re:Glad to work in IT (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551460)

Small and medium business I do work for are not spending on upgrades. It's all break/fix replacement. It's getting so bad for some, they won't even upgrade their backup software and hardware requirements. If only they can keep limping along for another year they say...

A storm is brewing. The handwriting is on the wall. I predict an increase in stories posted on Slashdot about how many companies have suffered data loss from the recession.

This might actually be a good thing, particularly if it hits the mainstream press. A few big articles about how "Company X has gone into administration following a huge systems failure" might drive a bit more investment in IT.

Runs on Oracle stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33550904)

The outsourcing company probably takes all the implementation decisions and the council ends paying the huge bill.

Of course it's expensive, judging by their HTTP response headers:

Server: Oracle-Application-Server-10g/10.1.3.0.0 Oracle-HTTP-Server
host_service: FutureTenseContentServer:7.0.2

The Oracle licenses (and support/consulting) aren't exactly cheap. And all that whitespace: they could reduce their traffic costs by removing those empty lines.

Re:Runs on Oracle stuff (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551156)

The Oracle licenses (and support/consulting) aren't exactly cheap

Yes, you're right. The £1600 for Oracle Webcenter, plus presumably £650 for Oracle Enterprise Database Server and around £600 per annum for the support contracts are really going to be problems here. Hell, we can probably double those figures because they'll need a development server as well.

Re:Runs on Oracle stuff (3, Interesting)

Hymer (856453) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551186)

...plus presumably £650 for Oracle Enterprise Database Server...
I would like to know where you are buying your Oracle licenses 'cause I'm paying something like £20000 anually for my Enterprise license (for a quad core, single socket server)

Re:Runs on Oracle stuff (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551220)

...plus presumably £650 for Oracle Enterprise Database Server...

I would like to know where you are buying your Oracle licenses 'cause I'm paying something like £20000 anually for my Enterprise license (for a quad core, single socket server)

650 BGP must be to run on a 386.

I'm going to call BS on this article. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33550996)

The 48 million number? Is taken out of context from a company's own website. Context that is lacking is timeframe, actual details of the spending...and you know what, that's enough that I don't feel like going any further.

These numbers may be facts, but they aren't a story. They're just being used to drive emotions.

I say we mod Article Down.

Re:I'm going to call BS on this article. (3, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551230)

Yeah, this sounds like the kind of crap normally put out by right-wing think tanks to soften up the populace for brutal cuts to public services. Fact is, Birminghams a big city and its IT services are bound to be costly simply due to scale. The deficit hawks always exploit this fact to come up with big, scary sounding numbers to show government 'waste'. After all, which sounds worse, "Government spends £1 billion on X" or "Government spends £16 per person on X"? Both of course mathematically equivalent.

Massaging the numbers doesn't hurt either. Chav-baiter Jeremy Kyle recently whined in The Sun about there being a £192 billion welfare bill and then starts complaining about people without jobs basically being subhuman - as if the entire £192 billion were spent on jobseekers allowance - the reality is that only £2.9 billion is spent on it, and the vast majority of that bill goes to supporting children, people on state pensions, and the disabled. But don't let facts get in the way of scapegoating the unemployed, Kyle.

There is only one source of our current financial woes, and it lives in the City of London. Right-wing think tanks are constantly putting out this bullshit as a misdirection technique. The bankers want us to blame some defenceless underclass instead of marching on their bonus-bought mansions with torches and pitchforks...

Re:I'm going to call BS on this article. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551402)

There has been a noticeable rise in the number of pro-Conservative Party articles on Slashdot. They're almost exclusively some whine that makes government stupid or the Labour Party look bad. Maybe it's some politically active nerd ego, or part of an organised campaign. I don't know but this run of articles looks more than a bit fishy to me.

I'm long-term unemployed and on sick pay. Yes, I'm one of those "lifestyle scroungers" the Chancellor of the Exchequer likes to slag off. He has one of the most powerful jobs in the country and an inheritor to a fortune while I'm effectively unemployable and the sort of job I could or want to do is unavailable because people with the power and money to create them spend that investment wealth on flash cars. I daresay spending £20 a month on the internet (which is my major source of entertainment and window on the world) is an example of me being on the gravy train but I'm acutely aware of the things I can't do and the life opportunities I've missed out and am missing out on.

People rolled over and passively took these bastards ideologically driven fantasies in the ass the last time around but I'm hoping this time is different. And this time I don't want to see Labour just use the poor as a passport to power and screw us the other way. This time there have to be a list of demands and real and meaningful consequences to them not being delivered. I'm fed up with this kick the victim routine. People have the power to end it.

I obviously have to be careful what I'm saying for legal reasons but if the Toffs have their flash cars and big houses targeted, and some fat cat banker gets stabbed in the street I'm not going to get in anyone's way.

Re:I'm going to call BS on this article. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551622)

I obviously have to be careful what I'm saying for legal reasons but if the Toffs have their flash cars and big houses targeted, and some fat cat banker gets stabbed in the street I'm not going to get in anyone's way.

Yes Comrade, fight the power! I haven't worked to earn any of those things either, but damnit I can express outrage towards the people who have! Life isn't fair, so let's hurt other people! Wooo!

Re:I'm going to call BS on this article. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551882)

Yes Comrade, fight the power!

Ahhh, your comment starts with a veiled dig, trying to insinuate that the parent is some kind of communist.

<meme type="phone message reference">The 50s called, and they want their propaganda back.</meme>

There is no reason why anyone of even moderate intellect would find your accusation offensive, and the fact that you even reach for that tool speaks volumes about your thought processes, and how they have been influenced and polarised.

Once people are polarised, they are much easier to control. Ever heard of divide and rule?

I haven't worked to earn any of those things either,

You think most rich (and I mean really rich) have actually worked for what they have? Hahahaha, don't be fucking stupid. The rich are only rich due to the existence of poor - rich and poor are relative terms, after all. The mega rich are in positions where they can effect everyone else's wealth, and most of the time when people are critical of the rich they are being critical of the ruling elite, not directly their middle-class lap dogs.

Though of course the uber-rich of today wouldn't be where they are if it weren't for a middle class willing to do much of the dirty work in keeping the poor poor.

And if you think many rich have worked to get where they are, that shows your ignorance of how capitalism works. Once you control enough capital and means of production, you can't fail to make more money. The system works like this by design[1], so that a few will always be at the top. The system is balance between peace and revolution, and middle class wealth is the key. If the middle class are comfortable, but the poorest not, you just get riots. If the middle class and poorest are uncomfortable, then you get revolution, and that effects the top.

but damnit I can express outrage towards the people who have!

Yeap, freedom of speech.

I hate to just hide behind that banner - that's a technique the BNP use to just spout venom. When asked to explain their attitudes, they hide behind "freedom of speech" and say they don't have to explain. Perhaps it is just more like really they can't explain, because their venom is based on poor logic, and they know it?

There are plenty of valid discussions around though about rich and poor, and everything in between. I know I am not good at presenting them, but at least I know the world isn't what is presented to me by the billionaires and banks that actually own or control most of the media.

It is also easy to slump into just following conspiracy theories - but they work like religions, so are best avoided: Some super-human-like character is pulling strings, and because we can't see them, they must exist.

Life isn't fair, so let's hurt other people! Wooo!

Sounds like the politics an policies practised by the very same rich people you are defending.

But what your parent was saying, in case you did miss it by mistake or ignorance, and aren't trolling by misinterpretation, is that he wouldn't stand up for a banker being knifed. I personally would (until I felt that I was at more of a risk than the first person being attacked) as even bankers are human beings.

I'd almost like to prevent a stabbing outside a bank - as once the stabber has run off no doubt the banker would stop to say thanks. I'd take the opportunity to explain that what they do is no better than the guy with the knife, and due to their shocked state they might actually take it to heart.

Or perhaps I'm not jaded enough yet by humanity, to think that someone who works for a bank could see the parallels with a knifing?

[1] Is this me slumping into a conspiracy theory? Maybe. I do feel societies evolve much like species, so saying design is easy. Just view the word design as a metaphor for the coming together of a bunch of things I know I don't fully understand - human psychology, economics, sociology, etc..

Re:I'm going to call BS on this article. (1)

Doug Neal (195160) | more than 4 years ago | (#33552128)

I obviously have to be careful what I'm saying for legal reasons but if the Toffs have their flash cars and big houses targeted, and some fat cat banker gets stabbed in the street I'm not going to get in anyone's way.

Yes Comrade, fight the power! I haven't worked to earn any of those things either, but damnit I can express outrage towards the people who have! Life isn't fair, so let's hurt other people! Wooo!

You honestly think peoples' wealth is directly proportional to how hard they work? The world isn't that simple. Social injustice is all around us, it's an entirely reasonable thing to be outraged about.

Re:I'm going to call BS on this article. (2, Informative)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551866)

The Labour Party manages to look worse than bad without any help from others.

In fact, the Labour party could not look other than bad: Old labour still believes Marxist economic theory is correct - despite the fact that it was proven stupid in theory and practice, while new labour: Blair was secretly negotiating with Mugabe!

There are NO redeeming features of Labour whatever.

However, if the bankers' "derivatives" ponzi scheme is not stopped soon, even the rich will be in the same situation as flooded Pakistanis.

Re:I'm going to call BS on this article. (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551470)

It does surprise me (although it shouldn't) that the blame for our current deficit woes has suddenly fallen on benefit scroungers, immigrants and the "dreadfully wasteful" public sector, instead of the previous administration having to spend huge sums bailing out a bunch of greedy fools in the banking sector. Those greedy fools of course are quite happily carrying on as before without any restrictions or complications.

Re:I'm going to call BS on this article. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551846)

The ongoing deficit has nothing to do with the bankers. We spent a few trillion pounds bailing out the banks a couple of years ago, but nothing this year. This year 25p out of every £ our government spends is borrowed, and none of that is going to the banks. It is going on other things.

Hmmmm.... (0, Flamebait)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551006)

Just change "Birmingham City Council" to "Federal government", pounds to dollars, and London to Washington, and it sounds awfully familiar on "this side of the pond".

If I only had mod points... (0)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551180)

Oh, wait. I forgot we can't mod dumb stories "-1, overrated".

we continue to drive efficiency through innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551184)

Bullshit Bingo!

Bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551290)

Perhaps all this money is going on bandwidth. Look at the source of birmingham.gov.uk; it is mostly (perhaps 80%) whitespace.

Not convinced of their maths or fact checking.. (1)

moreati (119629) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551348)

To reiterate my comment at TFA, that they're no doubt going to approve.

I would like to know how you arrived at your headline - £32000/day for the Birmingham City Council website?

Your quote "To date we've invested £48.4m ..." from http://www.capita.co.uk/about-us/Pages/Birmingham.aspx [capita.co.uk] gives a figure spent by Service Birmingham (£48.4 million), and that page states SB were "established in April 2006 to provide the Council’s information and communications
technology (ICT) services". That's 1596 days ago assuming 2006-4-30 to 2010-9-12. Dividing one by the other gives £30325/day, I presume you performed a similar division to reach £32000/day. However I cannot see how you conclude that the £48.4 million was spent entirely on the BCC website, and hence justify your headline.

To declare my interests I worked at Service Birmingham - the Capita/Birmingham City Council joint venture - until Jan 2010. Except for about 5 days as a testing volunteer I did not work on the CMS for birmingham.gov.uk. I have no financial interest in SB or Capita, but I do pay council tax to BCC. I await your answer.

Sincerely, Alex Willmer

As a resident of Birmingham... (5, Informative)

greg_robson (638474) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551354)

...I can say that we all waited ages for the site to relaunch, when it finally did we are shocked.

  • Poor accessibility, basically the same content under a different template. It took them 2 months to get the "Pay your Council Tax online" feature working again.
  • There was no consultation with the target audience (Birmingham City Council covers approximately 1.2 million people).
  • All the features we were expected such as here's my postcode...
    • ...where's my nearest school/doctor"
    • ...who's my Member of Parliament
    • ...when do my bins (trash cans for those across the pond) get collected.
  • ...were nowhere to be seen despite being common on many other council websites.

So bad is the situation, some local web developers have set up their own community built site:
http://www.bccdiy.com/ [bccdiy.com]
And while still in it's early days (design could be improved), it has the useful features and shows events that are taking place in what is a vibrant and modern city.

Re:As a resident of Birmingham... (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551464)

Cheers Greg, you hit some of the problems there. I have mod points but I have already posted.

Re:As a resident of Birmingham... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551676)

So bad is the situation, some local web developers have set up their own community built site:

http://www.bccdiy.com/ [bccdiy.com]

And while still in it's early days (design could be improved), it has the useful features and shows events that are taking place in what is a vibrant and modern city.

OMG! Separatist revolutionaries trying to usurp the rightful government! Someone must inform the council immediately.

Re:As a resident of Birmingham... (1)

mutube (981006) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551690)

It's funny you mention the bin collection information as I was going to make a comment here to that effect. I have moved from one area of Birmingham to a nearby one and went to the site to find out the local bin collection times. It went something like this...

Find my local area page on the site
Local services
Refuse collection

This does not tell me anything about local refuse collection but instead lists general information about what the council will collect and their 'priorities'

Follow a small link to local collection times
Enter my postcode (forget that I got to this page via a page about my local area)

I can't even remember if I got what I was looking for.

There are so many pages of text that serve no purpose other than to fill up a page that someone has decided should be in there. People go to a council website for very few and very specific reasons - the content and navigation of the site should reflect that. It reminds me of the xkcd comic with the university homepage content - what people are looking for vs. what is available.

Thanks for the link to the community site it'll be a useful first stop in future.

So What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551490)

640k should be enough for everyone.

handbags wholesale (0)

didtrade (1884658) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551552)

Private sector screwing over people again... (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551764)

That'll be the invisible hand of the market pickpocketing the public purse again. Who loses? the people who live in these towns.

  I wonder if this is going like the last time we had the Tories (right wing conservative party) in power? Lot of noise from politicians to privatise everything, juicy contracts issued, happy business leaders, 4 years down the line MPs (members of parliament) retire and get offered non-executive directorships in said companies (nominal one day a week jobs and a few million quid for doing so).

no wonder the babies we blew the arms off of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33551852)

are still hungry/sick/armless etc.../dying. butt, so long as we get to pay fuddles' liesense fees, the 'innovation' marches on (one can almost hear the dirge).

meanwhile (you can tell it's been a while already by the proportion of theft to value in previously established softwar 'contracts'/signed in blood ('till death...) 'agree(d)ments'); the corepirate nazi illuminati is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their (slippery/slimy) 'platform' now. see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

never a better time to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

Council "Website" haha (1)

Asahi Super Dry (531752) | more than 4 years ago | (#33551934)

So by "funding the website" they mean "funding the prodigious cocaine habits of council members?"

It runs on the most expensive software (2, Informative)

devent (1627873) | more than 4 years ago | (#33552230)

No wonder it's so expensive, it runs on the most expensive software out there. Windows Server 2003 and Oracle-Application-Server-10g/10.1.3.0.0 Oracle-HTTP-Server. [netcraft.com] . But the side is all wrong in FF3. The menu is in the middle of the side and the content is under the menu blob. Maybe next time they just using a Linux server with a custom Drupal or Wordpress.

Why the government always needs a site to be build from scratch? There are 100 open source CMS systems out there, where you have a) localization, b) forum, c) uploads, d) content management, etc, etc, all already developed. Just spend £1000 on a nice theme and another £3000 on customizing it. I don't think the side will have 10,000,000 visitors per day where you need an Oracle HTTP server with an Oracle DB and a highly specialized website.

Waste,Incompetence,Fraud in Govt IT? Its All True (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33552378)

I work in IT. I used to hear about those government projects with 10-100x cost overruns and think, "those numbers can't be true". Then I spent almost 4 years consulting for various government agencies, and sadly all those stories of waste, incompetence, and flat out fraud are all true. The experience was tramautic for me. If you work in IT, are good at what you do, and take pride in doing a good job then stay the fuck away from any goverment projects.

In government IT projects you'll meet $1500/day contractors who have worked on projects for 3 or more years without delivering a single line of working code, people who have "re-written" the same system every year for 4 or more years, "managers" who surreptitiously get 10-30% kickbacks from the contractors they hire, projects that require 3 years to fix after they were "100% complete" and voted "project of the year" by the local branch of the PMI, people with "certifications" who don't have a clue, and an army of consultants who have made a career of going from failed project to failed project.

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