Herfordshire County Council look to invest £1m in new ‘next generation’ website
- Credit: Archant
County Hall chiefs are looking at pumping £1 million into a new ‘next generation’ website.
County councillors will discuss plans for a one off payment of £1m to be spent on creating a new site at a meeting on Monday, and a report says the investment should be made to “improve access to information, advice and transactional capability for citizens”.
It is hoped the new site will go live by 2016 and will be ‘better structured, more searchable and fit for the future’.
The good news is that council estimates that spending the cash will allow them to save around £240,000 each year once the new site is up and running.
Last year more than five million people visited the Herts Direct website and almost 850,000 transactions were made through it.
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County Hall say this is the most cost effective way of taking payment transactions.
A county council spokesman said: “Our aim is to make the county council’s website so good that residents will be able to access our services directly online without having to pick up the phone.
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“The new website will feature the latest technology, offering a personalised service where customers can serve themselves simply and quickly.
“While there is an initial setup cost of up to £1m, lower running costs and fewer calls to our Customer Service Centre will save us £240,000 a year by 2016/17.”
The council is also hoping to ‘enhance’ the website contents and make it a simple and guided experience so visitors do not have to call the customer service centre. At present the website costs £736,000 per year to run.
The project comes within the remit of Councillor Frances Button, who last month revealed far-reaching changes to the county’s library service.
But Councillor Sharon Taylor, who represents Stevenage at county level as well as being leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “I am astounded.
“It is like a slap in the face.
“When you think they are going to take £750,000 out of the bus service, which will impact on a lot more people than tinkering about with the website will – I am all for digital communications but that seems like lot of money.”
The council is looking to the Invest to Transform business case to provide a grant to help them create the new site.
About £750,000 will be spent on the technology and £250,000 on staffing resources.
Councillors agreed to apply for the grant at a meeting last month.