Local authorities face Y2K problems

Up to 90 local authorities in the UK are not prepared for the millennium bug it emerged yesterday.

Action 2000 chairman Don Cruickshank admitted some will not have time to sort the problem out before the computer bug strikes.

Yesterday representatives from the emergency services, transport, food and broadcasting gave progress reports on their organisations based on the Action 2000 colour coding system. No such results are available for the 430 local authorities in the UK and the public will have to wait until July to find out if their local authority falls into Action 2000's red zone -- at severe risk of disruption as a result of the millennium bug.

Payment of benefits, lifts in tower blocks and central heating in old peoples homes are just three examples of disruptions the public could face according to Philip Wood, chairman of the local government steering group. "There is the potential for serious inconvenience," he admitted.

Cruickshank anticipated "significant problems" especially for smaller authorities. He conceded local authorities started their bug programmes late and, as a result, are significantly lagging behind the private sector in their planning.

Wood promised organisations involved in ensuring compliance would "move heaven and earth" to bring laggard authorities into line before the millennium. Auditors have been working with authorities for the last two years but Wood admitted there is "quite a way to go" and still a significant gap between best and worst practise.

Results of progress will be announced in July when laggard authorities will be named.