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The Government's e-soapbox on its flagship Web site has collapsed under the weight of punters voicing their opinions on how the country is being run.

The people's talking shops on the Number 10 Downing Street Web site crashed recently under the strain of 32,767 postings.

A notice on the site reads:

"Over the last three days a technical fault has made it impossible to access the Discussion Forums on this site. We apologise for this.

"Our designers have been working on a new improved programme for the Your Say section of the site. We now intend to install the new programme tomorrow. We regret that none of your postings will be transported into the new programme.

"We realise that this is not ideal. However, we hope that you will find the operation of the new forums to be much better than the previous ones."

Pete Ahearn, group account director for Bates Interactive, which designed the site, knew nothing of the "technical glitch".

He distanced himself from the problem saying that the maintenance and general running of the site was down to a crack team of Webbies at 10 Downing Street.

No one at Downing Street was available for comment.

Yesterday, prime minister Tony Blair gave his personal backing to a conference due to be held in London later this year which will look at how government's can get the most out of the Net. Perhaps he should reserve his place now.

And civil libertarians worried that the Government is trying to gag the views of the British electorate by not migrating opinions already expressed onto the new site can check out past postings here.

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