Government to encourage local councils to use domains

The government is seeking to encourage smaller councils to use websites in an effort to boost national security and democratic engagement at a local level. 

A new procurement advert by the government’s Central Digital and Data Office is looking for a supplier to support a six-month project to further its work in encouraging the adoption of domains by English parish councils, parish meetings and small town councils. 

The advert states that only 1,800 of the over 10,000 parish councils in England have registered a domain with some choosing not to have a domain at all, as ‘it’s hard for someone unfamiliar with current best practice to know where to start to guard against’ cyber threats. 

Though this procurement is only for the discovery and pilot phase of the project, the CDDO’s description says it ‘would bring a step change in the country’s cyber resilience at the foundational tier of our democracy because “” domains are continuously monitored, and if they get subverted for malicious purposes this will be quickly spotted.’ 

This phase would see five parish councils which do currently use a domain and five who do, but are struggling to adopt it, recruited to take part in research that will identify the barriers they have found. The supplier would then need to draft a proposal for new ways of working, including ‘scalable methods for improving adoption’ by parish councils.

Some of the responsibilities expected of those who adopt a domain include: nominating a domain name administrator, maintaining an operational and secure website, and avoiding using the domain to advertise commercial products and services. 

The National Association of Local Councils estimates that 100,000 councillors serve in local councils, meaning community, neighbourhood, parish and town councils, across England and represent over £1bn worth of investment into communities every year.  

Parish meetings are required for every parish under the Local Government Act 1972, consisting of a meeting of the people of the parish. They are connected to, but distinct from, parish councils. 

Suppliers wishing to put forward an application have until December 2 to apply. 

The need for councils to create a better digital platform was highlighted by Lambeth Council’s Nataša Patterson in her opinion piece earlier this year.

Photo by Gheorghe Ciobra


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