Andy Black Associates has been awarded and officially listed as a G-Cloud 9 (G9) cloud hosting service provider for its suite of digital services for Parish Councils and local government. G9 services became available on the Digital Marketplace on 22nd May 2017.
The digital transformation of Parish Councils has begun. Parish Councils originated in medieval times and are community centric, local and the first level of government for UK citizens. Andy Black Associates provide Parish Councils with a low-cost, easy-to-use and fully customisable hosted WordPress website template, specifically designed for Parish Councils, that enables Parish Councils to improve their engagement with the local community, comply with the 2015 Transparency Code and provide a better service for parishioners. The hosted website is also fully responsive when viewed on a mobile device.
The hosted cloud software-as-a-service for Parish Councils also includes monthly backups, data storage, data security, support and access to a streamed video e-learning library that enables Parish Council members to easily learn how to customise their sites, enabling value added services such as how to add the minutes of meetings, how to create an email newsletter, how to integrate social media or how to add YouTube content.
The service is currently being rolled out by the Hereford Association of Local Councils where over 50 Parish Councils have already successfully adopted the cloud service. Some “early adopters” in this group are starting to develop their Parish Council websites into community hubs.
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Lynda Wilcox, the Chief Executive of Hereford Association of Local Councils, said “The Parish Councils in Hereford using the service have already noticed an increase in the number of parishioners attending meetings, more engagement with older parishioners by email and also more younger parishioners turning up at meetings wanting to get involved in local democracy.”
Mark Millmore, ABA Director of Hosted Services, said “Our low-cost and easy-to-use hosted website template and hosted cloud service can be easily rolled out to any of the 8,356 Parish Councils in England and G-Cloud will be an important route for us to reach these government organisations. Our software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model will not only enable Parish Councils to improve their service to the local community, but will also allow significant savings to be made from the Central Government budget allocated to Parish Councils for their on-going IT and website developments. As such, we are delighted to have been awarded a place on the G9 Agreement, the latest iteration of G-Cloud, and can’t wait to take advantage of the many opportunities that the initiative offers for both suppliers and government bodies.”
G-Cloud is a Crown Commercial Service (CCS) initiative to encourage public sector adoption of cloud services by connecting government organisations with providers of all sizes in a secure and open environment. The CCS acts on behalf of the Crown to drive savings for the taxpayer and improve the quality of commercial and procurement activity across both local and central government.
To qualify for inclusion in G9, organisations need to prove that they are a suitable and secure potential partner for government technology projects. They must be prepared to list the capabilities of their products, along with indicative pricing. As a result, G9 provides public sector bodies with an open, secure and transparent digital marketplace in which to search for cloud solutions.
It also provides new business opportunities to businesses that pass the checks required to qualify for G9 status. Crown Commercial Service suppliers are given an opportunity to advertise their services to a wide range of interested public sector bodies in a competitive environment. Since it became available in 2012, UK government organisations have placed billions of pounds’ worth of orders through the service with most orders being won by SME’s.