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Sharing public sector information to distribute the cost of land management

  • I would recommend the [GIS partnership] model as a way of sharing information and Ordnance Survey map data. Using it with GIS has improved our public image and helps resolve problems.

    David Shimpe, Clerk, Hythe and Dibden Parish Council

Hythe and Dibden Parish Council is part of a geographical information systems (GIS) partnership established between New Forest District Council and a group of local councils, which gives them access to the district council’s digital data and Ordnance Survey mapping. This sharing of public sector information has brought about tangible improvements to the management of the parish council’s land and assets.

The challenge

Hythe and Dibden Parish Council, along with others nearby like Ringwood Town Council, were keen to gain better access to local government data on land and asset ownership in their areas. Hythe and Dibden Parish Council is a significant land and asset manager in its own right and knowing who owns what land is important, not least to provide a better service to residents. New Forest District Council was receiving a growing number of local council requests for map-based information and felt there must be an efficient way to handle them.

A GIS partnership was developed between New Forest District Council and 25 local councils in its area. This allows secure access to the district council’s ForestMap GIS system via its Intranet.

Hythe and Didben Parish lies on the eastern side of the New Forest, where it owns approximately 200 acres of public land, including allotments, play areas and a sports centre. The council is part of the partnership project team and has, perhaps, been one of the most active GIS users. All of the council’s staff can access the Ordnance Survey mapping data and GIS. The district council is on-hand if additional support is required.

Hythe and Dibden Parish Council takes many calls from the public about maintenance issues. It can now quickly check who owns land or assets and handle those enquiries efficiently. Members of the public are no longer passed from pillar to post. Similarly, the parish owns many trees, which get surveyed by the district council. From the data, the parish council can readily see when they’ve been or are due to be inspected.

An important spin-off from the data-sharing has been identifying places where the district and parish councils maintain plots of land next door to each other and where one of them could maintain the lot more efficiently. Where this has happened it reduces the number of site visits.

The benefits

  • Identifying public sector land and asset ownership allows pooling of resources and reducing workloads.
  • Data-sharing allows the councils to distribute the cost of licensing GIS.
  • Partnership bodies are better able to respond to issues raised by the public, saving them time and improving their service.
  • Further cost-efficiencies are being realised with services such as grass cutting.

The products used

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