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i-don't believe it! Council kiosks to change the world

More government guff. Hype breeds hatred

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Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

[SCENE: In government minister's (GM) chauffeur-driven Jag, 9.25am. Also in car, Secretary (S) and Press Representative (PR)] S: Okay, we've a busy day. Two trade shows, lunch with captain of industry, back to the House, photo-call with Jeremy Irons, select committee hearing. GM: What's the first trade show? S: It's at the Business Design Centre. Some kind of outdoor kiosk which tells you what the local council's telephone number is. GM: What's the point in that? S: I've no idea. Apparently... PR: If I could just interject. This is not just a kiosk, it is a solution. It brings government closer to the people - greater accountability in a digital democracy - what New Labour is all about. GM: How much closer? PR: Well, these information portals will be located in high streets all over the UK, giving free and instant information on matters which your ordinary Joe will want to know about, but have been difficult to find out before. GM: So, they won't just be in London? PR: Oh no. GM: Do they have them in Wigan? PR: Not yet. GM: Huddersfield? PR: I don't think there are any current plans... GM: Where then? S: It says here that they're all located in London. PR: Yes, that's right. S: All six of them. PR: Yes. GM: I don't... PR: But what we must remember is that this is but a small brick in the fast-moving construction of Britain as e-capital of the world. S: Who says? PR: Tony. S: Oh. GM: So how long have these things been on the street? PR: Since July last year, but now we have added free email and council information. You can also buy tickets and things over the Internet. GM: And have people picked up on them? PR: They've been phenomenally successful. GM: Really? S: Of course. It's a bloody miracle anyone found them in the first place. GM: Can I buy books from Amazon on it? PR: No, not Amazon, only sites that the company choses. GM: What company? PR:Cityspace - the kiosk er... information portal builders. GM: And how do they decide? PR: A wide range of criteria. Ultimately, the most cost-effective and efficient candidate that... S: Whoever pays them the most? PR: No and that cynical attitude is not what we need. Look! This a cultural leap which puts us in the forefront of the e-revolution. There's to be a large roll-out but we just can't confirm when or how many. This is just a further example of how councils and the government are meeting their promise to involve the whole of society in the riches of the internet era. [Jaguar arrives outside business centre. Minister enters and faces press next to one of the kiosks] GM: This i-plus portal represents a cultural leap for the UK. In the short time they have been available for ordinary citizens to use, they have been phenomenally successful, so successful in fact that the government has decided to roll them out across the whole country... [fade to grey]

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