Leeds City Council: £1.8m website gets nod

Councillors have failed in their bid to force a review of a controversial decision to spend £1.8m on a new council website.

The widely-criticised site - based on a system developed over 10 years ago - has been ranked 36 out of 36 metropolitan council websites based on the number of visits.

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The council's executive board opted to spend the money on an upgrade after hearing it would provide efficiency savings of over 4m over the next five years and make it easier for people to carry out transactions online rather than using the council's call centre - producing bigger savings not yet quantified.

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But Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors fear the proposed project lacked details and would not produce the savings forecast.

They urged the council's central and corporate scrutiny board to "call in " the spending decision and send it back to the executive board for reconsideration.

Their bid to force a rethink was defeated 6-5 and the scheme will now go ahead.

Coun Matthew Lobley (Con, Roundhay) said the council had not produced any proposals on how it was going to change the way it did business to take advantage of the new IT development.

He said: "Successful IT changes are achieved when the whole business transforms alongside. If we go ahead with this 2m plan in isolation we won't make the savings."

Coun James Monaghan (Lib Dem, Headingley) suggested the council could encourage people to carry out more money-saving online transactions without spending 1.8m on the website. With the council facing big spending cuts, Coun Monaghan said: "Is this the right time to be spending 1.8m on a new website?"

James Rogers, the council's assistant chief executive, said the new system would produce big savings,

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