Government websites: Natural England disputes DEFRA’s announcement

Matthew Chatfield
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In a previous post (Government pro-chips website batters National Parks, Naturenet 30 June 2010) I pointed out the list of government websites controlled by DEFRA which are to close, which was announced via a parliamentary question from Tom Watson MP. Now it appears that there’s some internal government dispute about this, with somebody from within Natural England taking issue with the list announced in parliament.

Love chips!

An email originating within Natural England and seen by Naturenet has been doing the rounds. It reads, in part:

It appears that DEFRA’s response to the parliamentary question is misleading to say the least. There are a number of changes happening to these websites mostly in terms of how they are presented, whose site they sit within, or who owns them. DEFRA appears to have interpreted these changes as closures rather than changes. MAGIC – will not be closing but it may form part of the Defra website. Nature on the Map – will not close and will be a subdomain of the Natural England site until a successor with at least the same functionality can be built. UKBAP – is owned by JNCC and they are planning to put it within their own site. Wetland Vision – is a partnership site and will in future be “owned” by RSPB and therefore not part of the rationalisation process.

This is hardly a surprise – as I remarked in the earlier article it seemed that some of the websites on the hitlist just couldn’t be closed, unless some very major areas or work were also to be stopped. However it does indicate a poor-quality and misleading answer to the original question about the websites. This is hardly surprising, given that the government has already saidThe expectation is the review, which will report by the Spending Review in September, will aim to shut down up to 75% of existing sites“. It’s an unfortunate habit of incoming politicians to announce the results of a review at the same time as the review itself. This makes things difficult for the civil servants who actually have to carry out the review, knowing that if their review finds anything different from what has been promised, there could be choppy waters ahead. And which public-sector employee wants to put their head above the parapet these days? Not this ranger. I think I’d better shut up now.

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

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