Well, it’s been quite a first-half-of-the-week.
Since going offline, we have been overwhelmed by expressions of support. At one point on monday, my entire Twitter client was filled with people retweeting things about ErnestMarples, to the exclusion of everything else. Quite astonishing.
There’s also been an amazing amount of media coverage — from the BBC, the Guardian, BoingBoing, the Register, Computer Weekly, and more besides. Many thanks to everyone who’s written about us or helped to spread the word.
So, what now for ErnestMarples?
We didn’t start with the intention of making money from the service. It was always here to be used by sites like PlanningAlerts, Healthwhere and JobcentreProPlus, which are socially useful tools that create tangible benefit for people. We hoped that the Royal Mail would let us be, but things don’t seem to have turned out that way.
We’re genuinely interested in finding a constructive way forward. We haven’t heard back from Cameron McKenna, or the Royal Mail, but we’ve sent them the following letter all the same:
ErnestMarples.com was set up primarily to provide a service to socially useful websites: mostly non-commercial services that operate in order to create real, tangible benefit to individuals.
This is very much in line with the Government’s current policy, produced by the Power of Information taskforce, to promote innovation in third sector provision of public services, particularly online.
It was our sincere hope when starting the service that it would be possible to reach an agreement with your client to continue operating it on terms that they find acceptable.
As you have requested, our service has now been disabled. Since then, we have received overwhelming expressions of support from a wide variety of people and organisations from NGOs and Parliamentarians to blogs, news publications and hundreds of individuals.
There is a significant need for postcode data to be made available on more practical terms. We would very much like to open a dialogue with your client in order to see if a productive and mutually beneficial way forward can be found.
We would be grateful if you could pass this offer to your client. We look forward to their reply.
Harry Metcalfe & Richard Pope
We really hope that they’ll take this letter seriously and have a genuine conversation with us about what should happen next.