IT ‘meltdown’ causes Edinburgh city council chaos

The city council Waverley Court HQ
The city council Waverley Court HQ
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FURIOUS council chiefs are demanding answers from British Telecom after a major IT meltdown caused chaos at City Chambers – leaving hundreds of calls unanswered.

Members of the public were unable to contact the local authority yesterday following a busy weekend, with phones at libraries also affected and frustrated staff unable to make internal calls.

A power surge following planned electricity works sparked the frustration on Sunday evening, with services not restored until late yesterday.

Today, leader of Edinburgh’s Conservative group, Councillor Cameron Rose, questioned why the failures could not be resolved on Sunday evening rather than disrupting thousands of council employees returning to work the following day.

He said he would raise the issue with city chiefs: “The whole of City Chambers was closed down over the weekend for this electrical work which was pre-planned.

“Somewhere around 4pm on Sunday afternoon, it was realised there was this problem, presumably relating to the surge. My difficulty is that from that time nothing was done until 8am the following morning when everyone came in.

“Where is our contract with BT? Why were we waiting until 8am? It’s wasteful.

“There should have been a person or procedure which escalated it in order to deal with that before 8am.”

He added: “Many council staff are totally dependent on IT and were deprived of that and also the public making contact with the council.”

Members of the public – frustrated at the breakdown – were keen to vent their spleen.

One business owner said: “It just gave me a funny tone and then the line went dead.”

Green councillor Gavin Corbett said the IT problems were “inconvenient” and took longer to resolve than was hoped.

“We’ve been pretty much working in a paper-free way in the Green office, so that does leave us a bit high and dry when the systems don’t allow access to phones, files or e-mail.

“It took a bit longer to sort than I’d have expected. Much more important is how access to libraries, council tax and advice have been affected so I hope any lessons have been duly heeded.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Some staff experienced issues with IT and telephony systems following planned electrical work.

“Engineers have now resolved the issue and staff are all now back online. Some service areas were affected but our business continuity procedures ensured there was no adverse impact on people using our services.”

A BT spokesman said: “Following planned electrical maintenance, it appears a power surge occurred, causing damage to line equipment which impacted voice and data services. Engineers were on site from 9am yesterday, restoring data links by lunchtime. Some phone services are still affected and investigations are ongoing.”

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com