BRAIN Brent Brain has been a site where voluntary organisations are able to publicise their activities and ask for help from volunteers, helping to provide the glue that holds our community together. Importantly they have managed their information page themselves rather than have it filtered through a third party. In addition forums have provided an arena for open discussion that have helped inform the work of councillors and hold them to account.
Brent Council has won awards for its internet work so it is a shame to see this lively semi-autonomous community website ended. The Council says that it will absorb some of the content into its official website but this misses the crucial matter of participant independence. This is the official Council Press Release - judge for yourselves whether it explains WHY the site has been closed. If anyone can translate the last paragraph into everyday English I would be obliged (and please let me know if you experienced any 'external stakeholder engagement' - I certainly didn't!):
Following a complete review undertaken of the council’s main website and BRAIN site over the last few months, Brent Council has taken the decision to merge the two sites transferring all relevant content from BRAIN to the council’s main website.
The aim is that the transfer will be complete by Friday 24 September 2010 and the BRAIN site will no longer operate from this date.
The review involved an internal and external stakeholder engagement process being conducted, with the consensus and overall aim to now provide a more co-ordinated website that operates more efficiently, better meets the needs of the council, and provides an improved online service for all local people.
Brent Libraries are looking at the possibility of training people to set up their own community website via Talk Local Meanwhile as a precautionary measure, in case people want to continue Brain's work, I have registered New Brent Brain with two blog providers. Please get in touch if you are interested in following this up.