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St Edmundsbury/Forest Heath: Jargon buster role for councils’ websites comes under fire

10:00 16 April 2014

The West Suffolk House council offices in Bury St Edmunds

The West Suffolk House council offices in Bury St Edmunds

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The recruitment of a jargon buster on up to £28,000 a year would leave two local authorities with more communication experts than Barack Obama, a councillor has claimed.

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St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council - which have a single staffing structure - have been advertising for a web author to cut through jargon and transform its websites.

The job is a temporary full-time post for up to 12 months and falls within the policy, communications and customer service department.

The two councils already employ five staff in the communications team, as well as using one freelancer.

Independent borough councillor David Nettleton said: “If it’s going to seven that’s far too many. I don’t think Barack Obama has got that many. And to cut through their own jargon. It seems a bit odd to me.”

And Independent borough councillor Trevor Beckwith added: “Stop putting jargon words in there to start with and you won’t need someone to edit it out will you?”

He added: “It just seems a bit of a luxury when we haven’t got any money for this, that and the other.”

John O’Connell, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It beggars belief that the councils are hiring for this role when they already have a communications team.

“Times are tough and the councils must make better use of the resources they already have. It’s important to have an informative online presence these days but that should be well within the capabilities of staff already employed, rather than wasting taxpayers’ money on a new hire.”

A spokeswoman for the councils stressed this role fell within customer service, and would not be adding to the number of staff within the communications team.

She said: “Doing it this way is cost effective and gives us a quick, consistent approach. The Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury council websites are essential for good communication and customer service and have to be attractive, useful and easy to navigate.

“They contain thousands of pages which are due for a content re-write. This is a big task and the temporary web author will work with staff to re-write the content to best practice standards, which staff will then take back to maintain and develop.”

She said the communications team would continue to have a key role to play in maintaining the integrity and currency of the websites, including updating the news content on a daily basis.

A spokeswoman said the aim was to have one website for both councils.

The job description says the web author will have to provide content which is customer focussed and encourages the use of web self-service.

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