Council's computer system bids for nationwide use

Contributed by editor on Feb 14, 2005 - 09:38 AM


A software system designed by Shepway Council to help streamline the work of local councils throughout the country could be in line for government funding.

The council will hear this month whether its software sharing proposal has been short-listed by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The proposal, developed by the council’s ICT Team, would create a UK-wide central software repository especially designed for local councils.

“Over the past few years, we have developed several in-house software systems tailored to meet our own needs. We believe many other local councils could use these systems - but there has been no organised way of sharing them. This system provides a way of sharing that would help lower costs and increase efficiency and consistency across the country,� said Bonnie Ferguson, the council’s Senior Analyst Programmer.

The University of Kent has been working with the council on the proposal and would help host and manage the system once it was up and running. A seminar hosted by the council and the university to explain the proposal in more detail attracted local councils from across the south of England.

“The general reaction was very positive. I think most councils can see the potential of a shared system,� said Bonnie.

The council is now waiting to see if its proposal, one of 200 submitted from across the country for funding from the government’s E-Innovations Programme, makes it through to the shortlist of 25.

“We believe we have designed a better and more efficient way for local councils to develop and use software programs and we will be looking at other sources of funding if we don’t make it through to the shortlist,� said Steve Dean, the council’s ICT Manager.

The council’s IT Team is also at the forefront of other changes. For the first time since the council was created under local government reorganisation in 1974, all its computer systems are now being run in-house.

“We have recently brought all our major financial systems in-house and the council is now self-sufficient in ICT, bringing savings of up to £200,000 a year compared with previous budgets,� said Steve.