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More than half of Harrow's public computers out of order
Library users have criticised the council after figures showed that more than half of its public computers are not working.
Harrow Council’s response to a freedom of information request submitted by blogger Paul Boakes, who runs community website iharrow, shows that as of October 19, 76 of the borough’s 142 public computers are out of order.
The worst of Harrow’s 11 libraries to try and use a computer is at Gayton Library in St John’s Road, where just four of the 19 machines are working.
The revelation is the latest in a series of IT problems at the authority, with its planning, email and parking fine payment systems all failing during the last month – despite the council asking those without home Internet access to use the borough’s libraries after shutting down the telephone service to pay fines in August.
Students outside Gayton Library told the Harrow Times that the computers were “never working” and made it difficult for them to complete coursework.
Amrit Saji, 18, who studies at Harrow College in Lowlands Road, said: “Me and my friends have come here to work loads of times and none of them are working.
“The ones that are [working] are always busy so it’s impossible to use them. I do think it’s bad because they’re meant to be for everyone to use.”
The situation appears to have deteriorated since another freedom of information request in January revealed that 36 per cent of the computers were not working.
Nathan Adams, 22, said: “They really need to do something about it I think because there are some people who don’t have a computer and there needs to be a way for them to access the Internet.”
A project to install wifi and improve computer systems in libraries, which have not been upgraded since their installation 11 years ago, was agreed by the council’s cabinet in January and should be completed by March next year.
Pensioner Margaret Davies, 87, said she used the library mainly to borrow books but had tried to use the computers once on the advice of her daughter to pay a bill.
She said: “They told me there were none working which wasn’t very helpful. I don’t have a computer at home and it annoys me that people keep telling me I have to go online to do things.”
The Harrow Times is waiting for a response from Harrow Council.