April 2015 saw the introduction of new rules for smaller towns, authorities and Parish Councils, making it a legal requirement for them to publish detailed, open and transparent information via a Parish Council website. The government’s transparency code was issued in order to meet the need to increase democratic accountability. The code requires the publication online of key spending and governance information.
The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 outlined an updated audit framework for local public authorities. Now, smaller authorities and Parish Councils with an annual turnover less than £25,000 will be exempt from external audits. Parish Councils are now subject to the new transparency requirements enabling local electors and ratepayers free and easy access to relevant information about the Parish Council’s accounts and governance.
Inskip-with-Sowerby Parish Council needed an accessible and responsive Parish Council website design in order to meet the new transparency code. The project was put out to tender and Quentin James Design were one of several companies invited to pitch for the Parish Council website design project. Normally, we don’t pitch for work, however as lead website designer and founder Quentin James grew up in the village, and still has family connections to the area, a proposal was prepared and submitted to the Parish Councillors for their consideration. Our website design proposal was well received and we were amongst three competing companies asked to present our design solution to a meeting of the Parish Council.
We proposed a bespoke, tailored Parish Council website design entirely based around open source frameworks and platforms. Our recommendation was to design and build a WordPress based website, built using the Bootstrap responsive framework. The new Parish Council website design would offer the council a fully scaleable content management system with WordPress.
WordPress can be updated and managed easily by the Parish Council Clerk and offers an extremely high level of ‘future proofing’, data portability and website security. Full training would be given to the Clerk to the Council, as well as to several Parish Councillors in order that future changes and updates could be made in-house.
Many specialist suppliers of websites to Parish Councils lock their Parish Council clients into using their proprietary systems for several years. This does not offer good value for money to these small authorities and councils as these systems are often under developed and out-dated. Using WordPress at the core of the website gives Inskip-with-Sowerby Parish Council supplier independence. This means that the Parish Council are not tied to Quentin James Design for on-going maintenance and updates. WordPress has a long history, and sustained future roadmap, of developments and improvements which the council can take advantage of, offering greater on-going return on the investment.
Following evaluation of the proposals and presentations from the three competing companies, we were delighted to be chosen as the preferred supplier for the Inskip-with-Sowerby Parish Council website design. Work began immediately and a few short weeks later, we delivered a bespoke, fully responsive, full transparent and open source website for the Parish Council. Our training package was delivered directly to the councillors and clerk and we offer on-going support and advice where required.
In addition to the design and development of the Parish Council website, we also provide the council with printed newsletter design, print and delivery. Having a website greatly reduces the need to print and distribute newsletters to each household within the Parish. From time to time however, matters arise which affect the village and its residents and a newsletter, delivered through the letterbox, informs quicker and helps to garner a better response.
"Quentin is quick to understand a brief and always delivers outstanding work on time and on budget."
"His right-first-time approach saves valuable time on every project and he backs his design work with excellent advice."
"A pleasure to work with and we will be using Quentin James Design again."
"The finished article was excellent and perfectly balanced for the audience involved."
"He interpreted my rather vague brief with speed, quality and an intuitive sense about what I needed."
"Having had the initial discussion Q came back with various options and from there on in through regular discussions he produced a website design that I'm proud of."
"I would highly recommend Quentin James Design if you are looking for a partner for your business."