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Part 9: Council Tax Main Enquiries – CDB Application

VO letters and forms which are not included as appendices are available as MS Word Templates

9.1 Overview

CT Main Enquiries is a software facility which allows a user to make searches against data held on the central database. Having made an enquiry, the user is able either to view the records found or to print them out in hardcopy, either in whole, or in part.

There are currently five enquiry modes available. These are:-

  • Council Tax Bandings – Live
  • Council Tax Bandings – All
  • Council Tax Reports
  • Council Tax Cases
  • Mass Data Capture Exception

The Mass Data Capture Exception enquiry produces a list of all domestic properties with missing Property Attribute Data.

When searching in 'live bandings' mode, only those bandings which are not inactivated or historic will be retrieved. When searching in 'all bandings' mode, all records which exist, i.e. live, historic and inactivated will be retrieved.

A user is not restricted by his/her BATlinks, and enquiries can be run across the database provided the user's records restriction (see paragraph 9.2 below) is not exceeded. As no validations are applied to an enquiry, it is important that a user adopts a sensible approach to the searches made. Wide, global-type searches can have a serious detrimental effect on the performance of the database.

9.2 Search Limits and Permission Levels

The maximum number of records which can be achieved by a user depends upon their CT Enquiries permission level. There are five permission levels available :-

  • CTENQ_1 - User restricted to a maximum of 1,000 records
  • CTENQ_2 - User restricted to a maximum of 3,000 records
  • CTENQ_3 - User restricted to a maximum of 5,000 records
  • CTENQ_4 - User restricted to a maximum of 10,000 records
  • CTENQ_5 - User restricted to a maximum of 15,000 records.

If a user with a permission level of CTENQ_1 - CTENQ_4 requires a higher level, this should be arranged through, and set up by, his/her Local System Administrator. Currently there is no facility to increase the number of records to a figure exceeding 15,000 (CTENQ_5).

9.3 Parameters

An enquiry using the software in any of the six enquiry modes requires the inputting of one or more parameters. These have been preset.

Following a primary parameter search, the user can pass directly to the View Options screen, to refine the retrieved records further by using the secondary parameters or to amend the primary parameters. Searches made within secondary parameters are made only against those records found by the primary search. It should be noted that secondary parameters include additional ones not found in primary parameters.

In general terms, the more parameters which are entered for the primary search, the longer the search takes. The best practice is to make a global search using the minimum number of primary parameters and then refine the records found using the secondary parameters.

When entering each parameter to be used for the search, it is necessary to define how the value entered should be compared with the data held. These definitions are labelled as "operators". A list of these is provided in a look-up table within each field. It should be noted that not all operators are appropriate for each parameter. Having entered an operator value, the cursor will move to the "clause" field for the relevant parameter, where the user enters the search value(s) for that parameter or selects from the List of Values.

Where an invalid value is entered as a search criterion and the enquiry is run, a search of the database will be made by the software but the result will be that no records are retrieved.

9.4 Searching for Data

A search will not begin until the cursor is positioned against one of the required search parameters.

If the result of the search is that the user's search limit is exceeded, an error message is displayed on-screen, and it will be necessary to add further parameters which restrict the search, or to abort the search.

When the number of records found using primary parameters is within the user's search limit, the actual number of records found is displayed. The user can then proceed to the View Options screen, or to secondary parameters, or to refine primary parameters.

The minimum requirement when in secondary parameters is a repeat of one of the primary parameters. Differing secondary parameters may be set which will further refine the data retrieved.

If primary parameters are amended, any secondary parameters already selected will be lost. A fresh primary parameter search is then undertaken, followed by any refinement needed using secondary parameters.

Having made a successful search, the results, which are output in Adobe Acrobat format, can be viewed on-screen or printed to hardcopy, or aborted.

9.5 Storing Parameters

Users can store sets of parameters and/or sets of values for a given parameter by pressing <Ctrl+F5>. When it is necessary to re-run the enquiry, the user can select from their list of ’Saved Parameters’ which is accessed by pressing <Ctrl+F6>. The application will automatically input the details. This is in line with all other Main Enquiry modes on the database.

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