Council grant to improve Cheltenham Festivals website
MORE than £100,000 will be spent on improving the Cheltenham Festivals website and IT system to secure its future.
Cheltenham Borough Council, which currently provides the organisation behind the town's literature and jazz festivals with IT support, has agreed to handover a one-off payment of £139,000.
The money will be spent by Cheltenham Festivals on buying its own IT equipment, allowing the council's IT team to concentrate on its authority-specific work.
Donna Renney, the chief executive of Cheltenham Festivals, said putting in place its own IT systems will allow the festivals to continue to grow and to keep up with increasing demand.
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She said: "This is absolutely vital because on the back of it we can develop a much better website than we have at the moment.
"We will be able to develop a world class website that will really showcase the festivals we have got and it will encourage a lot more people to attend.
"It is entirely a good thing for us and for the council and for the town."
Cheltenham Borough Council cabinet members voted unanimously in favour of approving the grant this week.
The council currently provides 'in kind support' to the group for ICT networking and telephony. But as the festivals have grown in size and stature, the demands on the council's ICT team and infrastructure have become more difficult to fulfil.
John Rawson, deputy council leader and cabinet member for finance, said helping the group buy in its own IT would 'reduce the strain' on the council's IT team. "Over the past few years there has been a process of Cheltenham Festivals, which was a part of the council, becoming a separate organisation and separating its services from ours, but we do still supply significant time to Cheltenham Festivals," he said.
"The difficulty is that Cheltenham Festivals' needs are becoming different from Cheltenham Borough Council's needs.
"It would make sense at this stage for the two organisations to separate as far as IT is concerned and for Cheltenham Festivals to run its own IT."