The latest round of local elections were held last Thursday (May 1st 2008) which resulted in huge losses for Labour, and great wins for the Conservatives. This latest set of elections was of particular importance to me, for reasons I’ll discuss at a later date. This meant I spent a large amount of time on the night of the 1st (and well into the early morning of the 2nd) visiting various council websites trying to find out details of who won.
Traditionally, I would use the BBC News website to track this information, but, they only provide information at full council level and do not delve into individual wards. If they did the amount of data they would have to handle would be astronomical. Just to give a rough figure, 8423 positions were up for election (source: BBC News), if you take into account that the majority of these were contested, you can see how this would be impossible to manage.
To find out the information I was after, I had to rely on local council’s own websites to provide me with the detail I required. My biggest discovery (somewhat unsurprisingly) was that in general, these websites are crap. They are difficult to understand, take forever to load, provide little accessibility and did not give me the level of information I needed.
So what are they doing wrong? Over the next few blogs I am going to look a number of councils that had live election websites – Monmouthshire County Council, Swansea City Council and Cardiff County Council.
You can keep track of the whole series of entries here.