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Students and journalists wanted to design Lord Mayor’s website, but don’t expect to get paid

Students and journalists wanted to design Lord Mayor’s website, but don’t expect to get paid

🕔31.Jan 2014

Having controversially paid Capita £1.2 million to create a website for the new Library of Birmingham, city council bosses were determined not to repeat the mistake when they wanted to install new technology in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour.

Rather than giving the work to Capita, they decided to get someone in to do the job for nothing.

An appeal has been launched for IT-savvy students or journalists who would be prepared to design web pages for the Lord Mayor’s office free of charge.

The council is working with Birmingham City University on a range of projects to modernise and improve mayoral activities, including building a dedicated website to promote the Lord Mayor’s charities and making improvements to existing pages about the mayor on the council’s own website.

A report to the Governance Scrutiny Committee makes it clear that volunteers must work on a ‘pro bono’ basis – for the public good – and won’t get paid.

It says: “The Lord Mayor’s office is currently working with Birmingham City University to improve and update the Lord Mayor’s pages on the council’s website.

“This will include, in conjunction with the Leader’s office, distinguishing between the role of the Lord Mayor and the role of the Leader of the council, as well as emphasising the work of the Lord Mayor in promoting the city and supporting the local community.

“Job descriptions for pro bono services of an IT student and a journalism student have been drawn up with a view to placements from January 2014.”

The report reveals that support services for the Lord Mayor’s charities have fallen victim to council financial cuts. It’s hoped that students at Birmingham City University will help develop a dedicated website for the charities as well as an e-ticketing facility for events.

Farming the work out free of charge to Birmingham City University appears on the face of it to break the council’s agreement with Capita through which all IT contracts have to be carried out by Service Birmingham.

Last year the council was heavily criticised after it emerged Service Birmingham had been paid £1.2 million to develop the new library’s website, and £190,000 a year running costs.

At the time library director Brian Gambles said the council had no option and could not have given the work to anyone else because it had to comply with the conditions laid down in its contract with Service Birmingham.

The council is currently negotiating to reduce by at least £20 million the £125 million a year it pays Capita to run Service Birmingham.

Cover Image: Musician Wages

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