Until recently the portal had four categories of notice for general, licensing, planning and traffic notices. However, a fifth category, council surgeries, has now been added. The first local authority to deploy this is Argyll and Bute Council. Due to the dispersed geographic nature of the local authority area and to ‘digital-proof’ their services, the council viewed this development as a priority. As a result, they invested in and enhanced their digital systems and processes to support the automatic upload of notices from their databases.
The councillor surgery notices details the ward name, number and local authority; the date, time and location, and which councillor will be in attendance.
It is hoped that this digital notification will further support local democracy and political engagement in Scotland. Benefits include a single point of notification of council surgeries across Scotland, with live updates that can be displayed on a map and also used for text message and email notifications for subscribers.
This is likely to be of interest to elected members and their support staff in other councils. Some councils may be ready to adopt very quickly in a similar way, but others may be constrained by digital and data silos within their own infrastructure. Manual upload may be required for those latter councils, which can be facilitated, and further work may be required on the TellMeScotland website to support such councils in providing a full capability of mapping and notification to citizens, where this is lacking.
The TellMeScotland website was launched in December 2010. 31 councils and 21 wider public sector organisations publish notices on the portal. Site traffic has grown by around 50 per cent each year with over 300,000 live and archived notices and 775,000 annual page views.
More information is available on the website https://www.tellmescotland.gov.uk