Council staff’s web habits are revealed

SUFFOLK: Social networking, news and shopping websites are top of the charts for council staff, as new data reveals their internet habits.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by The Evening Star, has revealed the top websites viewed by Suffolk County Council employees.

The statistics reveal that staff spend time shopping, looking for directions, house-hunting and reading the news.

While worldwide search engine Google came top in the list of most visited websites, the list reveals that they have also spent time scouring the BBC, Google Maps, Facebook, Autotrader and The Evening Star’s website.

In a time frame of just three months, council staff viewed items from the top 15 on more than 27million occasions. Between May 11 and August 8, staff viewed the Facebook website more than 1.6m times, while clocked up more than 266,000 page views.

Robert Oxley, campaign manager for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “It looks like staff at Suffolk County Council are spending a lot of time on sites that are unrelated to their job and of personal interest only.

“Staff should be concentrating on delivering better services and producing value for residents’ money, not looking at their friends’ photos on Facebook.

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“While many staff work hard and diligently it’s important that taxpayers are able to scrutinise what’s been done during time they are paying for.”

But a spokesman for Suffolk County Council said employees used social networking sites, including Facebook, as a way to interact with the county’s residents.

He said: “The vast majority of internet usage by staff is for the delivery of public services in Suffolk.

“Like most councils and organisations, Suffolk County Council also uses the internet to communicate with the public in a way they prefer.

“We use sites like Facebook to share information on important public services like youth support, children centres and trading standards.

“The council’s policy is that staff are permitted to use the internet for personal use, provided it’s in their own time. We continually monitor this to ensure usage is appropriate.”

n Do you think internet use should be monitored to a greater degree? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or send an

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