Internet could link Suffolk Coastal

TOWNS and parishes across Suffolk Coastal could all be linked via the internet in a ground-breaking project.Suffolk Coastal council is hoping to link up the community leaders, who are spread across 340 square miles, using the latest technology to bring all the town and parish councils on-line.

TOWNS and parishes across Suffolk Coastal could all be linked via the internet in a ground-breaking project.

Suffolk Coastal council is hoping to link up the community leaders, who are spread across 340 square miles, using the latest technology to bring all the town and parish councils on-line.

The council has made an ambitious bid for Government funding and has proposed a scheme that could offer the opportunity to all parish clerks – or their nominees – to be trained to make the most of the benefits of computers, the internet and e-mail so councils and residents can receive better services.

Colin Hart, cabinet member for rural issues said: "Just before Christmas, the government announced it was seeking proposals for funding from its e-Innovation scheme.

"We have taken the opportunity to submit a suggestion which we think could be of great use to many of our parishes.

"We were only given short notice to apply, and it did not give us enough time to consult with parishes but we did manage to gain the enthusiastic support of the Suffolk Association of Local Councils, as well as Suffolk Acre, and I hope it will now gain the backing of the government.

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"This district is spread over 340 square miles, with 117 different town or parish councils, and anything which helps the communication between local government and with the public can only be welcomed.

"If we do get the go-ahead, we will then be talking to individual parishes about how it can meet their needs and the community they serve."

Suffolk Coastal believes the initiative would help parishes identify service improvements and potential savings.

Training parish clerks to be "e-enabled" would help the district council by shortening the time needed to distribute information and be a major benefit when consulting parish councils, particularly on planning applications.

The goal would be to trial the approach with six parishes, before learning the lessons and rolling it out across the district, with the potential for it to become a pilot scheme for other rural districts across the country.

Last month's Comprehensive Performance Assessment of Suffolk Coastal identified that the council could improve the way it liaises with parishes and this project could be a major step forward in the process.

A decision is expected by the end of this month from the government.

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