RECENTLY, Thurrock PCSO’s had to go cap in hand to the Chadwell Community Forum for monies to purchase a bicycle. The following month, they went to East Tilbury Community Forum as well. This time for a second hand car that could mean an officer could patrol East Tilbury.
On many occasions, around the borough, YourThurrock has seen Thurrock officers put their own hand in their pockets to help fund projects. That’s the type of people they are and will always be.
Recently, many public organisations have started to think before they plough money into websites. A council in Minnesota wanted to re-vamp it’s site. They were quoted $100,00 but instead used an IT undergrad who charged $9 grand to produce an acclaimed, user-friendly, does what it says on the tin website.
So, it comes as something of a shock that a Freedom of Information (FoI) Request has revealed that Essex Police spent nearly £80,000 on a new website that launched earlier this year.
The response to the FoI stated:
“The design and development costs were: £70,000 (which covered Essex Police and Essex Police authority websites)
“The costs for ongoing hosting, licensing and maintenance costs are £5670 per annum.”
The amount has startled the Spokesperson for Thurrock UKIP, Tim Aker, who only recently learned that Essex Police would be taken a £2.6 million cut in the grant it receives from the Home Office for 2010-11.
Mr Aker said: “How can a £70,000 website keep the people safe? This massive overspend on PR is a disgraceful waste of public money, money could have been spent on more police to keep our streets safe. Profligacy on this scale is one of the reasons why we are in a budgetary crisis.
“It shows the sad priorities of the Authority and our decision makers, they would rather spend taxpayers’ money protecting their reputations than protecting the people.”
YourThurrock showed the website to several senior website designers who had estimated the total costs to be between £15 and £25,000. They were astonished buy the figure of £70-£80,000.
An Essex Police Spokesperson said: “The Essex Police and Essex Police Authority websites received very little funding for over ten years. A decision was made in 2009 to invest in a new content management system to meet the needs of the public.
“Since its launch, the public have been participating in consultation forums. They particularly like the postcode system where you can find information on your local neighbourhood beat officer.
“We also received praise from the Home Office for our content during the World Cup which gave sensible advice to the public.”