A DISAGREEMENT over the running costs of the Blackbird Leys Parish Council website led a councillor to “storm out” of a meeting.
Councillor Brian Lester – who runs the website leysonline.net – left the meeting, telling chairman Gordon Roper to “p*** off”.
The argument was sparked by Mr Roper questioning the council’s £100 monthly expenditure on the site, which goes towards maintenance of its function and appearance.
Mr Lester said: “Other sites pay in excess of £200 a week. I think we do damn well getting it at the price we agreed on.
“It was voted by the parish council that we would pay this money – £1,200 a year – for the maintenance of the website.”
Speaking directly to Mr Roper, Mr Lester said: “I’ve had nothing but you being picky about it.”
After the meeting, Balfour Road resident Mr Lester told the Oxford Mail: “Every time we have a bill I get comments from the chairman regarding the cost. I just get so cheesed off.”
The parish council’s original website was first set up in 2002, but has been relaunched three times since then. It became leysonline.net in 2010.
It has information about events, news, parish council agendas and minutes and contact details for shops, organisations and services across the estate.
In June, the site had 121 visits and 197 page views.
Mr Lester, 66, said: “I take great pride in being able to get residents aware of what goes on on their estate. It breaks my heart sometimes when you get slammed for doing something constructive.”
Speaking after Mr Lester left Tuesday’s meeting, Mr Roper said: “There was no need for him to storm out.
“I’ve been here for 15 years and I’ve never seen that.
“I’m only asking questions as to where the money goes – £1,200 is a lot of money.”
He added that the parish council gains “nothing” from the website.
There were also suggestions that the website could be relaunched again in a new, cheaper, format.
Clerk Nicky Clargo said: “It would be really good if the whole area had a website where all the children’s centres and community groups could have their own section and add to it themselves.
“It would be really beneficial to people in the community.
“It needs to be more state-of-the-art.
“The one we have got at the moment is a bit clunky.”
It was agreed that councillors would look into the possibility of a fourth relaunch and that it would be discussed in more depth at the next meeting on Tuesday, August 26.
When told about these suggestions, Mr Lester told the Oxford Mail that he would welcome a website expansion, but would “explode” if the site’s costs were brought up again.
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