Cost of high-tech hits wallets

E, that's a bit expensive!Taxpayers in the Suffolk Coastal area will be wishing they could use the delete button as they will have to fork out more than £680,000 over the next two years so their council can keep up with E-government.

By Richard Cornwell

E, that's a bit expensive!

Taxpayers in the Suffolk Coastal area will be wishing they could use the delete button as they will have to fork out more than £680,000 over the next two years so their council can keep up with E-government.

The government nationally is determined that councils do as much work via e-mail, new technology, and the internet as possible, and bring in electronic voting as quickly as they can.


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To keep up with the latest information technology (IT) developments, Suffolk Coastal will have to spend £485,000 in the next two years on hardware and systems, and put together a team of people to operate them.

The extra staff will cost £90,000 a year – though officers say there will be savings in time and others staff costs because the IT will speed up work.

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The new systems will allow staff to access local and national maps at the press of a button and link these with other council services, such as planning, building regulation, electoral register work, environmental services and council tax.

It says it will save time and improve service to the public, make the records more accurate, save storage space because paper documents can be binned, and make data analysis easier.

It will save more than 730 working days for those currently involved in land searches, and 150 working days for those who process planning applications.

In a report to be considered by the cabinet on February 4, a report by the council's management team say the development of the IT systems is inevitable.

"If the council is to achieve its E-Government objectives it needs to commit to the programme," says the report.

"This means signing up to associated national projects, and accepting the costs and resources involved in carrying out the total project. There is little scope for a halfway house.

"While the funding requirements for this project are considerable, the building blocks put in place by this project, should, if opportunities are taken, provide ongoing savings together with an improved service to our customers plus protection of our prime information sources when the project is complete."

WEBLINK: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

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