Row over cost of council’s website

Brian Lester, who runs the Blackbird Leys Parish Council website, which was at the centre of a row at a council meeting

Brian Lester, who runs the Blackbird Leys Parish Council website, which was at the centre of a row at a council meeting

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

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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Comments (9)

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12:49pm Fri 1 Aug 14

Captain J says...

Wow, 121 views a month, that's pathetic! Might as well not bother with the site at all.
Wow, 121 views a month, that's pathetic! Might as well not bother with the site at all. Captain J
  • Score: 0

12:58pm Fri 1 Aug 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

It's all a balance of risk when it comes to the cost.

Yes, there are free alternatives out there - and some are very good. But the moment your website is hacked, you're locked out of it, and you find that the boobs on the site no longer relate to amateur spelling or grammar errors - you'll wish you'd gone for the more commercial option.

Saying that. With just 120 views in a month and a further 77 click-throughs - is it worth having it at all?
It's all a balance of risk when it comes to the cost. Yes, there are free alternatives out there - and some are very good. But the moment your website is hacked, you're locked out of it, and you find that the boobs on the site no longer relate to amateur spelling or grammar errors - you'll wish you'd gone for the more commercial option. Saying that. With just 120 views in a month and a further 77 click-throughs - is it worth having it at all? Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 1

1:22pm Fri 1 Aug 14

norton manor says...

surely its not what the Parish Council get from it, its what the residents get from it, clubs, groups, important information including who to contact
surely its not what the Parish Council get from it, its what the residents get from it, clubs, groups, important information including who to contact norton manor
  • Score: 3

2:29pm Fri 1 Aug 14

online_reader says...

norton manor wrote:
surely its not what the Parish Council get from it, its what the residents get from it, clubs, groups, important information including who to contact
Exactly. There aren't going to be that many hits because there simply aren't that many residents looking for the information but they'll be glad to find it when they do. Sites that require individuals to update themselves usually become obsolete pretty quickly with just one or two ardent users who make sure everyone knows about am dram or running but not much else. £100 a month is pretty competitive in the market.
[quote][p][bold]norton manor[/bold] wrote: surely its not what the Parish Council get from it, its what the residents get from it, clubs, groups, important information including who to contact[/p][/quote]Exactly. There aren't going to be that many hits because there simply aren't that many residents looking for the information but they'll be glad to find it when they do. Sites that require individuals to update themselves usually become obsolete pretty quickly with just one or two ardent users who make sure everyone knows about am dram or running but not much else. £100 a month is pretty competitive in the market. online_reader
  • Score: 3

2:53pm Fri 1 Aug 14

mytaxes says...

What info does it give that is unique to Blackbird Leys?
What info does it give that is unique to Blackbird Leys? mytaxes
  • Score: -1

3:22pm Fri 1 Aug 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

mytaxes wrote:
What info does it give that is unique to Blackbird Leys?
Why not take a look?

You could be the first "hit" of the month!
[quote][p][bold]mytaxes[/bold] wrote: What info does it give that is unique to Blackbird Leys?[/p][/quote]Why not take a look? You could be the first "hit" of the month! Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 3

8:25pm Fri 1 Aug 14

mytaxes says...

I will if I can find the web address.
I will if I can find the web address. mytaxes
  • Score: 1

8:39pm Fri 1 Aug 14

norton manor says...

mytaxes wrote:
I will if I can find the web address.
leysonline.net, the site is for the residents of BBLey/Greater Leys to see what happens there
[quote][p][bold]mytaxes[/bold] wrote: I will if I can find the web address.[/p][/quote]leysonline.net, the site is for the residents of BBLey/Greater Leys to see what happens there norton manor
  • Score: 1

10:24pm Fri 1 Aug 14

mytaxes says...

Thanks for the address, it's a really good website , I found it interesting and I don't live anywhere near BL. It's a shame that more people don't use it.
Thanks for the address, it's a really good website , I found it interesting and I don't live anywhere near BL. It's a shame that more people don't use it. mytaxes
  • Score: 2

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