Two Suffolk councils have named BT as their preferred partner in an ambitious e-initiative worth an estimated £300m over 10 years.
Suffolk County Council and Mid Suffolk District Council are planning to join forces with BT in a deal which aims to provide residents with a wide range of access to services.
The partnership is believed be the first of its kind in the UK involving a county council, and also the first to be multi-authority in its approach, with the planned involvement of district councils in its initial stage.
The arrangement is expected to involve "substantial investment" by BT in the councils' services at a time when local authorities across the UK are working towards the 2005 target for making services available electronically.
Exact details of the partnership are still being finalised, although the partnership approach is expected to:
- Deliver e-government services in Suffolk
- Make services more relevant to residents' needs
- Allow residents to access services through a range of methods including e-mail, text, post and face to face
- Give staff the opportunity to develop new skills and encourage innovation
Local politicians expect the project to make access to public services easier for local residents. Councillor Kathy Pollard, who is responsible for access at the county council said, "A partnership with BT is hugely exciting because it will enable Suffolk people to access public services when they want and in a way that is convenient."
BT is planning to work with its strategic technology partner CGI Group to deliver the initiative, which follows the telecoms giant's existing joint venture deals with Liverpool City Council and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.
The councils and BT are expected to start work together next spring.