Bolton Council is providing a fast, efficient same-day property search facility, with each search guaranteed for seven years. The service has led to a significant boost to council revenues. Bolton Council holds data for over 132,000 properties and provides this service to solicitors, Property Search Portals and Independent Property Search Companies.
Enabled due to funding from the Local Authority Modernisation Programme (LAMP) the service is facilitated by the authority’s local address dataset which provides the key link between a property and the many layers of council held data that relate to it. Bolton’s address dataset is part of the AddressBase range of products created by GeoPlace by combining local authority data with other national datasets and made available by Ordnance Survey.
The system put in place under LAMP is simple to use. Property search requests come in from the council’s website, by direct email or the National Land Information Service (NLIS) – the online service used by many solicitors or one of the independent property search portals. Staff in the council then fill out a simple electronic form with the specific search criteria and select the property extent using an onscreen map. The system drills down into its database querying everything from Planning to Environmental Health. The information is populated into a single report which can be sent out by email, the whole process being completed within ten minutes. The authority’s local address dataset, with its unique property reference numbers, is used by all Bolton Council’s systems and therefore provides the link to enable the system to pull all relevant data for a property into a single report.
All councils have to make their data open to individuals or personal search companies so they can carry out their own searches. One terminal is provided free of charge in the council’s one-stop-shop which provides access to the Local Land Charges Register. All council held information relating to local search information is available through Bolton Council’s website.
“Since introducing the system with guaranteed same day turnaround and competitive pricing we have been able to regain market share which provides a significant revenue boost for the Council,” said Executive Cabinet Member for Environment, Regulatory Services & Skills, Councillor Nick Peel “With knowledgeable staff and a great system we can usually deal with requests within ten minutes which is hard to beat.”