Report number: OAS/WS/21/008
The Committee received report number OAS/WS/21/008, which set out the findings from the Website Working Party. The Group was set up following a work programme suggestion submitted by Councillor Terry Clements, attached as Appendix 1.
The Working Group comprised four councillors and met on three occasions to understand data on how the website was used; discuss their experience of using the website and agree an action plan. Between meetings members of the Group tested the website, including attempting to undertake the 10 most commonly used website functions and testing “Find My Nearest”. At its last meeting the Group considered progress made on an Action Plan, which was developed during its second meeting (Appendix 2).
The Group had identified 15 improvements (Appendix 2) as result of its work, and subject to endorsement by the Committee, these were with officers to progress. Some of the actions had already been completed or were in progress.
Councillor Robert Everitt, Cabinet Member for Families and Communities wished to thank Councillor Terry Clements and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for allowing the Working Group to carry out this piece of work and to officers for guiding the Working Group through the process.
The Committee considered the report and asked questions to which responses were provided.
In response to a question raised as to whether there was a requirement in law to have pages on its website in different languages, officers explained that there was no requirement by law to provide alternative languages as people mainly used their own language readers. The council did have a contract which made it cheaper, with a company called “language line” who were qualified translators, for example to translate documents when required. On its website, the council had an accessibility statement, and it tried to be as compliant as possible with accessibility requirements. Officers are able to undertake weekly reviews of accessibility compliance. A selection of officers across the council had also been trained as editors in uploading accessible documents and making sure information was up to date.
In response to a question asked as to whether the council’s website had been created in-house, officers explained that the website was predominantly maintained by council staff.
In response to a question raised as to why councillors were not asked for their input, the Chair of the Work Group, Councillor Stephen Frost, referred members to the original terms of the review and to Appendix 2, recommended action 15 being proposed to “inform councillors of where they can raise website issues and improvements within the council”, which would be an ongoing aspect of keeping the website up to date. This was specifically included to ensure that in future Councillors would have a clear avenue through which to raise any concerns they may hold about the website.
Discussions were also held on the planning portal, links to other organisations websites and search words (terminology used), to which responses were provided.
At the conclusion of discussions, the Committee endorsed the action plan developed by the Website Review Working Group, attached at Appendix 2 to the report, to be implemented with the support of the Portfolio Holder for Families and Communities.