New year publicity blitz planned to get more residents to use Bedford Borough Council’s website


A new year publicity blitz is being planned to get more people to use Bedford Borough Council’s jazzed up website.

The website is central to the council’s drive to save £24.3 million by 2024/2025 as it introduces what it calls a “digital operating model”, where people use digital services.

Work so far across the council, and not just on the website, has already saved £16.2 million, 70 per cent of the target.

The council hopes to make £9.3 million of savings by going online.

A meeting of the council’s budget and corporate services overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday (28 November) was told that once the Christmas period is out of the way, there would be more promotional activity.

Some had already started during the October half term, using the strap line Save Time, do it online.

The January promotional activity being planned includes social media, adverts on Facebook, on buses and online, and in the town’s car parks.

The committee was told that the new website has been up and running for 11 months, with new online services being added every month.

Recent upgrades have included for bin collection services, which was used by 800 people in two days.

It tells visitors whether their bins have been collected, allows missed collections to be reported, and which bins are due to be picked up next.

The idea is to replace the need for administration with automation. Instead of having someone to answer the phone and fill in a form, it will all be done automatically and directed to where it needs to go.

Councillors were told that the traditional phone lines are still there, and able to be used, but their use is dropping away.

Council officers are now encouraged to help people go online, and that has already seen 5,000 people create accounts, and 3.5 million page views.

Cllr Jake Sampson (Lib Dem, Newnham) said it was “nice to see progress on the website”, which he compared to some neighbouring councils which still have old sites.

After the meeting Cllr Kay Burley (Lab, Kempston Central & East) repeated concerns that she does not want the council to forget about those people who cannot or do not want to use websites.

The council’s website has been upgraded by using part of a £6.828 million investment in new technology.

Words: David Tooley, Local Democracy Reporter and Paul Hutchinson.

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