DEVELOPING a new website is going to cost Blackburn with Darwen Council a six-figure sum.

Plans to spend more than £140,000 of reserves money on developing the new online presence have been approved by resources boss, Cllr Andy Kay.

The £141,551 one-off cost include an estimated cost of £35,000 for work to associated third party websites such as planning and online payments, and for safety testing.

There will be costs of £24,313 for staff time for the duration of the project which will be accommodated within existing budgets.

The move comes after the council revealed it would be spending more than £1.8million on new laptops for staff.

In a report, Cllr Kay said: “The council’s existing website has been in place now for six years and is in need of updating, the existing IT infrastructure also needs upgrading and therefore it was identified as an opportunity to look

at options for the website moving forwards.

“The existing site is very focused on news, information and services rather than being focussed on transactional elements and is required to be more mobile and responsive to serve the needs of our citizens going forward.

“The requirement for a newly designed corporate website has been identified as one of the key priorities of the Digital Services Programme.

“A separate BwD website workstream was initiated to identify the best rated council websites and produce recommendations for the options available to develop and implement a new website.

“A business case was drawn up which looked initially at 15 various options for the website moving forward with 11 being discounted for a number of reasons as they were either not deliverable or did not meet the specifications.

“The remaining four options were presented to the Digital Services Programme Board for consideration where it was recommended that the council proceed with an in-house design and development using an open source product called Drupal.”

Drupal is a free open source software product used by many local authorities and central government.

The development and design will be done internally with no third party supplier needed.

Cllr Kay added: “The three other potential options were discounted due to the cost of implementation.

“One option was for Drupal but designed and implemented using a third party which would be more expensive than the inhouse option and the third party would retain the knowledge about the design and build of the website.

“The remaining two options were for off the shelf systems which were substantially more expensive than the open source options.