Londoners were left unable to apply for housing benefits or pay council tax bills after a council website crashed for two days.
The Tower Hamlets Council website has been down for two days since the morning of Tuesday, January 4. The council serves 319,000 people in the borough.
Parts of the website were still accessible but services including paying council tax, applying for benefits and consultations on new building projects were offline.
Many residents of the borough vented their frustration on social media.
One wrote: “Not sure if they paid their bill but I am not paying mine (council tax bill) until they fix the site.”
Another said: “Not very convenient when a St George’s Pool consultation closing date is today!!”
One concerned resident asked a councillor online: “What would we need to do if we need to purchase residents’ permits starting tomorrow and can’t access [the] website account?
“I assume there will be fair grounds to appeal if fines are imposed during this time.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service has seen an email sent from the council’s IT director to council staff explaining which areas were affected.
These are the planning portal, democracy portal, public consultations, online forms and the virtual school.
The director added that some emails were not getting sent or being received by the council, with residents often not being notified that their email had not gone through.
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The email explained the council does not know when its services will be back online. The council posted on its official Twitter page on January 4 to address the problem.
It said: “Our website is currently down. Apologies for any inconvenience caused, our IT team are working hard to get it back up and running.”
The council opposition criticised the council for the website crash, arguing that it could have been avoided.
A spokesperson for the Tower Hamlets Conservatives said: “The council will have to explain why this happened.
“Tower Hamlets Council is an organisation with a budget of £1.2 billion a year – how on earth did this happen?”
Tower Hamlets Council was contacted for comment.