Tuesday 3 March 2015

Websites for Parish Councils are No Longer Just an Option

Websites are now considered to be a cost effective and efficient vehicle to support councils communicating with your communities. One-way communication has now developed to require interaction and engagement with the community and just passing on information. 
Many of you are very active on social media seeing this as key strategy to your engagement with your community. However there are many who wish to have no link at all as it is seen as a very risky activity due the lack of control of content and responses.
The most important aspect of this is to ensure that sufficient time is given over to maintaining and responding to your Facebook page or Twitter accounts. If time is given over to this, positive news and information can be continually fed into social media and any negative content can  be immediately answered. Good links between social media and your council website will demonstrate your council is active and responsive and provides continual up to date information.
 "Social media is an important internet medium so ensure that your council looks at it with an open mind"

In the past the information you added to your website was very much your choice but the world is now moving forward. The Martha Lane Fox Report produced some years ago stressing the need for government and local councils to become ‘digital by default’ is now resulting in changes in legislation placing an increasing ‘legal’ obligation on what information you need to make available through your website. The Transparency Code, Local Council Award Scheme and the Local Government (Democracy) Bill in Wales are now placing clear obligations upon your council.

"Council websites are sometimes built by a member of the community or you may be part of a community website outside of your control"

This sometimes works well, with low cost implications. However the time it takes for information to be added and reliability through this route is frequently quoted as a problem. With the new legislation, the increasing amount of information that will need to be added within set time constraints may start to create problems for these councils.
The use of a District Council website is also an option recommended but with the new world fast approaching, now may be an appropriate time to consider moving to a professional company to work with you and support you in taking control into the future. 


Next month this article will be featured in 'Clerk Magazine' as published by  the Society of Local Council Clerks

Nigel Hillier

Director Vision ICT Ltd