All posts by Parish Council Websites

WCAG 2.2 – meeting the new standards

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 introduce new requirements aimed at making web content more accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities. For parish council website publishers, adhering to these guidelines is crucial to ensure that their websites are inclusive and compliant with legal standards.

WCAG 2.2 was introduced on 5 October 2023. Nine new criteria make their definitive debut in this new version of the WCAG standard. New sections have also been introduced that detail aspects of the specification which may impact privacy and security. WCAG 2.2 extends Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG2.1), which was published in June 2018.

All local councils are required to ensure that their website complies with WGAG 2.2 AA Accessibility Guidelines by October 2024.

Key New Requirements in WCAG 2.2:

  1. Focus Appearance (2.4.11): Ensures that the focus indicator is visible when navigating through interactive elements using the keyboard. This helps users who rely on keyboard navigation to easily see where they are on the page.
  2. Dragging Movements (2.5.7): Provides alternatives to dragging movements for users who have difficulty performing such gestures. This is particularly relevant for touch interfaces, ensuring that users can perform actions like moving sliders or dragging items without requiring fine motor skills.
  3. Target Size (2.5.8): Ensures that touch targets (like buttons and links) are at least 24 by 24 pixels, making them easier to interact with for users with limited dexterity or those using touch devices.
  4. Consistent Help (3.2.6): Requires that help mechanisms (like a ‘contact us’ page or support email) are consistently available throughout the site. This helps users find assistance easily, improving their overall experience.
  5. Redundant Entry (3.3.7): Ensures the user is not expected to re-enter information that they have already provided, such as contact form submissions.

Implications for Parish Council Website Publishers:

  1. Design and Development Adjustments: Web developers will need to ensure that interactive elements like buttons and form fields have adequate focus indicators and meet the target size requirements. This may involve redesigning certain elements to make them more accessible.
  2. Keyboard and Touch Accessibility: Developers must provide alternative methods for actions typically performed by dragging, ensuring that users can interact with all elements of the website using different input methods, such as keyboard navigation or voice commands.
  3. Consistent User Support: Parish council websites must include consistent help options available on every page. This might involve ensuring that support contact information is displayed in a prominent and consistent location.
  4. Ongoing Compliance Monitoring: Regular accessibility audits will be necessary to ensure that websites continue to meet WCAG 2.2 standards. This involves using tools and possibly third-party services to test and validate accessibility.

By implementing these new WCAG 2.2 requirements, parish council website publishers can ensure their sites are more inclusive, providing a better user experience for everyone, including those with disabilities. This not only enhances accessibility but also ensures compliance with legal and ethical standards.

Email Etiquette for Town & Parish Council Members

Effective email communication is essential for maintaining professionalism and fostering clear, respectful interactions within the parish council and with the community. Here are some key guidelines on appropriate email behavior:

  1. Response Times: Aim to respond to emails within 24 to 48 hours. Prompt replies show respect for the sender’s time and keep council operations running smoothly. If you need more time to provide a comprehensive response, send a quick acknowledgment and indicate when you will follow up.
  2. Tone: Maintain a polite, respectful, and friendly tone. Emails can sometimes be misinterpreted due to the lack of verbal cues, so it’s important to be mindful of how your message might be received. Avoid using all caps, which can be perceived as shouting, and be cautious with humor and sarcasm, which can be easily misunderstood.
  3. Formal vs. Informal Language: Use formal language when communicating with external stakeholders, residents, or during official council business. This includes proper salutations (e.g., “Dear Mr. Smith”), clear and complete sentences, and a professional closing (e.g., “Sincerely, [Your Name]”). For internal communications with familiar colleagues, a more informal tone may be acceptable, but always remain courteous and professional.
  4. Subject Lines: Use clear and concise subject lines that accurately reflect the content of your email. This helps recipients prioritize and locate emails more efficiently. For example, “Agenda for June 20th Meeting” is more effective than a vague “Meeting.”
  5. Clarity and Brevity: Be clear and to the point. State your purpose at the beginning of the email and provide any necessary details in a structured manner. Use bullet points or numbered lists for clarity when addressing multiple points.
  6. Professional Signatures: Include a professional email signature with your name, title, contact information, and the parish council’s name. This provides recipients with a clear understanding of your role and how to contact you.
  7. Confidentiality and Privacy: Be mindful of the sensitivity of the information you share via email. Avoid discussing confidential matters in emails and use secure methods for sharing sensitive documents. Always double-check the recipient list before sending to ensure you are not inadvertently sharing information with the wrong people.
  8. Attachments and Links: When sending attachments or links, make sure they are relevant and clearly referenced in your email. Indicate if there are any specific instructions or deadlines associated with the attachments.
  9. Proofreading: Before hitting send, proofread your email for spelling and grammatical errors. A well-written email reflects positively on you and the parish council.

By following these guidelines, parish council members can ensure their email communications are professional, clear, and effective, contributing to a more productive and respectful working environment.

SPAM and phishing emails

Since the advent of ChatGPT we have notice a huge increase in the quantity of SPAM and Phishing emails and also notice their increased ability to evade SPAM filters.

We have copied some examples of recent messages we have received below – it is a 4 page pdf file, so make sure to scroll down to see all the examples.

Parish Council email accounts and GDPR

We often get asked the question: should the clerk or Councillors be using their personal email accounts for council business?

While this wasn’t a problem in the past, the new GDPR regulations mean that it isn’t advisable. There are 2 main reasons for this – under GDPR, people have:

  • The right to access all information that you hold about them
  • The right to be forgotten (ie have all information you hold about them erased)

Fulfilling both of these obligations can be difficult when the clerk or Councillors may have information buried within their personal communications. Also, if the clerk or a Councillor has left the council it will be difficult and time-consuming to retrieve or delete all the information shared as part of council business.

There are 2 ways of solving this problem:

  • Set dedicated accounts for your Councillors, using your Council’s domain name. We recommend using Webmail to access the emails as that way no messages are downloaded to the Councillor’s PC or phone. There are 2 advantages to this approach: your Councillors will have an official email address such as; secondly you will have complete control over deleting all their messages after they leave the Council.
  • Get your Councillors to set up dedicated council email accounts using a free online email such as gmail. When a Councillor leaves the council, they can simply delete the account and all the content. This isn’t ideal as you will need to rely on them to delete the account and all the messages after they leave.


There are 4 main advantages to using emails that are set up to use your domain name (for example

  • It is more official and more professional. Anyone can set up an account such as whether they have a link to the council or not.
  • It offers more privacy – Google are able to offer free email accounts by selling user’s metadata to advertisers.
  • It enables the Council to have full control over removing email accounts when a Councillor leaves the Council – in the case of Gmail you are relying on the Councillor to delete the account themselves. This can be an issue with GDPR if a parishioner requests the disclosure of all information regarding them and the Council is not able to provide it as it is controlled by an ex Councillor.
  • In addition (another GDPR issue) – all the data from email accounts we offer is held in the UK.

Our costs are to cover the fees we pay for the server space; the time spent responding to support requests and also adding and removing email accounts as Councillors change.






Two new Parish Council Websites

We are delighted to announce the launch of 2 new websites.

Challock Parish Council in Kent

The parish council wanted a new website to reflect the village activities, such as the churches, and some of the lovely photographs from the flower festival.

Di Sandy, the clerk commented:

“The website is very good and very easy to follow. Getting there with familiarisation.”

Visit Challock Parish Council website

Bagnall Parish Council in Staffordshire

The parish council wanted a new site that could be easily updated without reliance on third parties. They asked for the menu to be structured to their specifications and for the Council Members section to have images, biographies and responsibilities.

Denise Cooper the clerk commented:

“I am very pleased with the web design, it looks very good and I should be able to update / maintain it myself as I am fairly familiar with WordPress. Thank you very much.”

Visit Bagnall Parish Council website

It was a pleasure working with both councils and we are delighted with the new websites.

Choosing the best website provider for a town, parish or community council

When choosing a parish council web provider it is very important that your new site is safe, secure and compliant.

Town and parish council website legal requirements

There are a host of regulations out there that local council websites must comply with.

The main ones are that your site is:

  • WCAG 2.1 AA compliant

  • GDPR compliant

  • Transparency code compliant

    • This means that you publish all the necessary information to provide transparency to your parishoners and website visitors. This includes publishing minutes, agendas, financial information and Councillor’s details in a timely manner. You can read about what you need to do to make your website transparancy code compliant here: Transparency Code for Parish Council Websites

Town and Parish council website hosting

When choosing a host for your website there are a number of factors to take into consideration

  • Security – where to begin on this huge subject… Well it’s imperative nowadays for sites to have an SSL certificate which means that the connection between the visitor and the server is encrypted. You should also make sure you use strong passwords.
  • Backups – it’s imperative to maintain backups of your site content. We’ve heard from so many people who’s sites have been hacked and they have lost everything because it wasn’t backed up.
  • Speed – it’s important for your users that your web pages and files load quickly, especially for those living in rural areas with slow internet connections.
  • UK-based hosting – while not imperative, this is desirable. It means that when your visitors click on your site the signal doesn’t need to be bounced to America and back (for example), which helps with site speed. It’s also desirable for GDPR, ensuring that your information is hosted in the UK.

Easy to use websites with help and support

You want a website that is easy to maintain and update.

It’s best if you are able to do this yourself as this means that you don’t experience delays in getting someone to make changes to your site and can do alteration as and when you need to.

You can’t beat having a friendly voice on the end of the phone or email who will answer any questions you have – so much quicker and easier than poring through help documents or watching endless YouTube videos.

The Little Book of Big Scams

The last few years have seen an explosion in online fraud as increasing amounts of our lives and financial transactions move online. Find out about the most common types of fraud and how to prevent them. The Little Book of Big Scams is a useful resource that you will want to read and share with your parishioners and is produced by the Metropolitan Police. Read it here – it it isn’t displaying properly on your screen, you can click the ‘The-Little-Book-of-Big-Scams-5th-Edition‘ link to view a full-sized version. You can also use the ‘Download’ link below the PDF to save a copy to share on your own website.

New parish council website – Hemingford Abbots, Cambridgeshire

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new website.

Hemingford Abbots in Cambridgeshire needed a new site that was compliant with the new WCAG 2.1 AA standards required of town, parish and community councils.

We designed them a new compliant website and transferred their content to the new site.

The new website is fully compliant with all current regulations including WCAG AA Accessibility regulations, GDPR and the Transparency Code.

We are delighted with the finished website – and it has been a pleasure working with the council to create the new site. The site includes an image slider that showcases their stunning pictures from around the village and also has an enhanced menu that works very well for large sites with lots of content.

You can view the site here:


Email safety tips

Many people fall victim to traps by criminals sent in emails. More recently, these criminals have used the pandemic as a cover story to con large amounts of money or personal data from unsuspecting victims by phishing. Here are some simple things to be aware of

Definition: Phishing. Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

  • Your bank will not discuss your private financial situation by email. If you receive any correspondence that claims to come from your bank, telephone your branch to verify it and discuss the matter over the telephone instead.
  • Don’t open attachments or click on links from anyone you do not know. If you do click on them, this could result in malware being downloaded to your device.
  • Look for spelling and grammatical errors. These messages often come from abroad.
  • Look at the email address of the sender. If it doesn’t look like it’s from the company they represent, don’t respond.

Finally, when you see a suspicious email, delete it. Put it in the bin where it belongs!

Operation London Bridge – are you ready?

What is Operation London Bridge?

Operation London Bridge is the code name given to the plan for what will happen in the days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The plan was originally set up in the 1960s.

How will it affect Town and Parish Council websites?

Local council websites will be expected to go into mourning mode. This means that a single respectful page will need to be added as the main entry point of the website. The page will have a black background and a picture of the Queen, along with her dates of birth and death.

How will it be announced?

The news will ripple out quietly and secretly to begin with. The words “London Bridge is down” will be used to make the announcement. The next step will involve informing the Commonwealth Governments. Finally, the world’s press will be made aware with a newsflash to the Press Association and other global media outlets.

What can you do to prepare?

How you can add a new black home page to your website very much depends on the technology your website uses. You will need to contact your website design company to ask them how this can be set up.

How can Town and Parish Council Websites help?

We have prepared some custom software that will enable you to easily comply. You will be able to enable or disable the black screen as and when you need it. The cost of adding this to our customer websites is £80. Unfortunately we are not able to add it to websites that are not run by us.