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Haringey has one of the top five costliest websites in the country

PUBLISHED: 11:29 20 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:05 07 September 2010

FIGURES detailing how much local councils spend on their websites have revealed a mounting cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds in north London. A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Haringey Council spent more than £500,000 on its websit

FIGURES detailing how much local councils spend on their websites have revealed a mounting cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds in north London.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Haringey Council spent more than £500,000 on its website redesign in 2003 and met recurring costs of up to £200,000 a year.

The figures show that in 2008-09 the council spent £205,000 on its website, exclusive of staff costs. A staggering £37,000 was spent on hosting videos and almost £20,000 for a system to display maps and statistics. In 2007-08 the annual spend before staffing costs was at least £148,000.

If these outlays were typical the total spend since the redesign in 2003 would be close to £2million, plus salary costs. The council, however, describes this estimate as ''wildly inaccurate''.

According to the report, Haringey's site was among the five most expensive redesigns in the country - only Birmingham City Council (£2.8million), Essex County Council (£800,000) and Medway Council (£600,000) spent more.

Liberal Democrat councillors have demanded an explanation for this high level of spending at a time when funding is facing a further squeeze from central government.

Cllr Robert Gorrie, Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, said: "Haringey is, once again, top of a league table but for all the wrong reasons.

"Communication through websites and the opportunity for residents to engage with the council online is important, but spending £200,000 of taxpayers' money on a website in a year, especially when there is good evidence of better value elsewhere, needs to be challenged."

A spokesperson for Haringey council said: "The £2million figure is wildly inaccurate - our annual average spend from 2003 is nothing like that.

"Our investment in the web means we are able to offer modern, accessible services that deliver real efficiencies.

"For every transaction we convert from face-to-face to the web delivers on average a 95 per cent saving. This is the kind of value for money residents expect from Haringey Council."

Westminster council has paid for three separate redesigns of its website in the last 10 years. The latest was completed in 2009 and cost almost £130,000.

However, it is the annual running costs of this new website that has attracted attention. In 2008-2009 the council paid out almost £730,000 on the site, of which £635,685 was spent on the development of the website, £21,839 on hosting and £71,059 on support.

David Wilde, chief information officer at Westminster Council, said: "As a billion pound organisation providing more than 300 services, it is crucial that we have modern but cost effective web services which provide easy to access and up-to-date information and enable people to do business with us online.

"Westminster Council is the biggest parking, planning and licensing authority in the country and over the last year more than £22million worth of transactions went through our website - making it one of the most heavily used local government sites in the UK."

Camden council did not reveal the amount of money it had spent in full on its website redesign and maintenance despite Freedom of Information requests. A spokesman did tell the Ham&High £102,000 had been spent on basic costs for their latest website development.

"The cheapest and most convenient way to access the council for many residents is online," he said. "The website improvements will help residents to meet more of their needs through the web, saving up to £75,000 per month by helping to reduce the number of more expensive telephone and face-to-face transactions.

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