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Gazetteer management on a shoestring

NLPG Exemplar Award: Highly Commended – ‘Most improved’ 2006: Richmondshire District Council.

Richmondshire’s LLPG was first created in 2002 after an initial merge of data. Until April 2005, little had changed, but over the next year, a small team of dedicated professionals, who created their own tools to do the job, made significant improvements. Richmondshire is a great example of a local authority with limited resources creating a high quality gazetteer.

Richmondshire’s LLPG custodian, with the help of one and sometimes two administrators, took a radical approach knowing full well that the gazetteer would in due course have to support all the council’s main systems. Key to this strategy was the creation of the Council’s own in house GMS. AV GMS brings together a number of data sources in a single, interactive, spatial environment: LLPG, Council Tax, Non-Domestic Rates, Electoral Roll, NSG, Parish data, Planning.

The team also developed processes in order to analyse the LLPG statistically to monitor progress against the project plan, to observe trends and issues in the data which would otherwise be invisible and unquantifiable, and to accurately access how complete the LLPG was.

A system of ‘work files’, essentially a list of UPRNs with common problems, was used to ensure that data cleansing was precisely targeted. As similar problems were highlighted ‘work files’ would be created and then re-loaded into the AV GMS to be fixed. Each property could then be viewed in turn and problems resolved before moving on to the next record. This structured way of working paid dividends, in dealing with heavy work loads, and introducing inexperienced staff to the complexities of data cleansing in a ordered manner.

Progress was monitored on a weekly basis to help keep the team focus.


There has been substantial improvement in Richmondshire’s LLPG in the past year to March 2006 with the successful inclusion of data from Council Tax, Electoral Roll, Planning and Non-Domestic Rates.

The AV GMS is now a very useful tool, which has been developed to handle all of the typical problems associated with LLPG creation. Because it is essentially a development of existing GIS software it can also be taken out into the field on a laptop to make on site problem resolution even easier.

Working to a tight budget and with very limited resources Richmondshire District Council now has a high quality LLPG to enable the council to go to the next stage – integration with key systems.

“The Government wants to deliver the best possible support to people in need. We can only do this if we have the right information about people’s circumstances. We are determined that information sharing helps the most disadvantaged in our society.… …That is why the Government is committed to more information sharing between public sector providers organisations and service providers.” - Baroness Ashton of Upholland MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Sep 2006).

Key benefits

  • The case study shows a good improvement in data quality over a very short period of time and the inclusion of missing property information as a result of matching key datasets and validation of the associated local street gazetteer.
  • The LLPG is now fit for purpose to become the trusted source of property and address information for the whole of the council.
  • The creation of a DIY gazetteer has not compromised data quality and has in fact stimulated the adoption of a rigorous and structured approach to LLPG improvement which has paid dividends.
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