New websites for South Ribble and Chorley councils to make it easier for residents to access services digitally

South Ribble and Chorley councils are to get new-look websites in an attempt to make it easier for residents to access their services digitally.

Thursday, 6th August 2020, 12:38 am
Updated Thursday, 6th August 2020, 12:42 am

South Ribble says that its outdated site is “not user-friendly” and needs an overhaul in order to encourage digital interaction and reduce “the number of more expensive phone and face-to-face transactions”. The authority also hopes that the move will improve perceptions of the council amongst younger generations, whose impressions of organisations are often shaped by their online offerings.

Meanwhile, Chorley says that the current pandemic has demonstrated the importance of residents being able to make effective digital contact with their local council.

The neighbouring boroughs will each get similarly-designed sites, but will retain their own identities. The pair say that the £141,000 price tag – which will be split equally between them – is around 50 percent less than it would have been had they entered into separate contracts either with the same or different providers.

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Chorley and South Ribble councils have jointly procured a new design for their websites

South Ribble Borough Council’s cabinet member for finance, Matthew Tomlinson, said that the authority’s current website was now outdated, having been in operation for seven years. He previously told a cabinet meeting that the template on which it was based dated back at least a decade further.

“We’ve already made improvements to our telephony systems to make sure our residents have a great experience when they call our customer service centre, Gateway – and we’re working on upgrading our software to enhance the customer experience and to encourage even more digital interactions with the council.

“The current website received over one million hits in 2019/20. However, since 2013, there have been improvements in technology and a refreshed website will allow us to take advantage of them.

“The new supplier of the South Ribble website specialises in local authority websites and provides Preston City Council’s site.

“We’re looking forward to making our website the best it can be and providing updates to our residents – including when the new website should be expected to go live – over the coming weeks,” Cllr Tomlinson said.

Each of the authorities will keep control of their own site and will not have access to the so-called “back end” of the other.

Chorley Council’s cabinet member for customer, advice and streetscene services, Adrian Lowe, said he was keen to see the authority’s new site up and running.

“It is in much need of an update and I’m so pleased that we have started the journey to ensure that our residents can get the best possible service from the council online.

“We’ve seen over the last couple of months that it’s now more important than ever for people to be able to engage with their local council digitally and the newly upgraded website will absolutely enhance the customer experience.

“The new-look website is just one of the upgrades we’re making to enhance and improve the council’s overall digital offer and I look forward to seeing these projects progress.

“We will be sharing updates about the progress of the new website over the coming weeks,” Cllr Lowe added.

The contract for the development of the two sites has been awarded to Goss Interactive Ltd., under a delegated decision by council officers in consultation with the relevant cabinet member.