Belfast City Council Minutes update

The nigov site has been rather lacking in updates to the Belfast City Council minutes section for a while now. Although partially this is down to laziness on my part, the main reason is that the Council seem to have changed their on-line minutes system slightly.

Not content with the plethora of problems previously discussed, the latest version of the software spectacularly fails to work with Firefox. You can still run a search (with all the normal problems that entails), but now, when the results are returned, you can no longer paginate through them, or even download the actual minutes.

None of the links on the page are actually true links – they’re all nasty JavaScript links (the next page is “javascript:lisObj._changePage(‘listObj$75’,2)”, for example). And, of course, the JavaScript doesn’t work in Firefox. I wasn’t sure at first whether this is because they’ve updated the software they use, or whether a Firefox update had changed something, but I investigated on a variety of machines with several different Mozilla-based browsers of various vintages, and it seems to be broken on all of them.

I actually forced myself to investigate using Internet Explorer to do this, but although the JavaScript does actually work there, IE’s “load a dummy page for download instructions” mechanism, coupled with the severely broken ‘back’ function of the Council minutes system (which seems to use frames for no apparent reason) means that I can only download one set of minutes at a time before having to return to the home page and re-run the search. Thus downloading a month’s worth of minutes would take an hour rather than 5 minutes.

I asked the Council about this three weeks ago (and whether they have considered the implications of such a broken system on disability access / screen-reading software etc.), but haven’t received any response yet.

Hopefully they fix this soon and I can bring everything up to date again.

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