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.

Meeting WCAG 1.2 AA Accessibility Standards

5 common accessibility problems with town, parish or community council websites

1. Can you magnify your website by 200% without needing to scroll sideways to view the content

How can you check?

If you are working on a PC, you can hold down your Ctrl and press the + key on your keyboard repeatedly. Each time you press the + key, the magnification will increase. Depending on the software you are using, you will probably see the magnification level in the top bar of your web browser – usually just to the right of where your web address appears (the part where is says https://…. You will see the percentage increase each time you press the + key.

If your website is correctly programmed you will be able to reach 200% and the content will still be clearly readable. You may find that some elements of your site will reflow so that perhaps the sidebar content will now appear underneath the main page content, but that is fine.

Why does it matter?

Visually impaired visitors may need to magnify the text in your website. Visually impaired visitors can have a range of disabilities and some may be temporary such as someone who doesn’t have their reading glasses.

2. Can you use the Tab key to navigate through your website?

How can you tell?

Begin by clicking in the top address bar of your website. This is where the web address is (beginning https://….). Repeatedly press the Tab key and see if the cursor moves through the content of your site. Make sure that the menus (tabs) are all fully displayed while you are doing this and that you can get through all the content on the page without the cursor getting stuck anywhere.

Why does it matter?

Visitors with motor disabilities many not be able to use a mouse. This group includes visitors with arthritis for example.

3. Does your website have flashing elements that auto-play

How can you tell if it is a problem?

It is important that anything that auto-plays on your website can be paused. So for example if you have an image slideshow at the top of your homepage it should only show for a short period or there should be the option to pause it. This can either be by controls (a pause button) or by a convention of hovering over it to pause it.

Why does it matter

Visitors with cognitive disabilities can find flashing or changing content difficult to understand and distracting. This group includes visitors who have disabilities such as dyslexia or are prone to seizures such as epilepsy.

4. Does your site use non-descriptive links?

How can you tell?

Look though your site for links such as ‘cllick here’ or ‘minutes’. It is important that the link clearly describes what is being linked to and that the same link text is not used to go to different destinations. Is it clear what is being linked to if the link is read without the contect of the surrounding text?

Why does it matter?

Visually impaired visitors using screenreaders will often just scan the links in the page to work out how to reach the content they are looking for. If they find a series of links saying ‘Minutes’ (for example) they will not be able to establish which set of minutes it is linking to. Instead rename your links ‘Minutes 20 May 2021’, for example.

5. Are any forms your site uses accessible?

Do your forms have labels that clearly identify what should go in each field. This will enable visually impaired visitors using screenreaders to identify all the fields. You should not use ‘honeypots’ as these can also trap visually impaired visitors.

Another issue is with forms that time-out after a certain time period. This can create a problem for visitors with motor-impairments who can find it difficult to fill in all the fields and need extra time.

Covid restrictions for town and parish councils

When will local councils be able to resume normal business?

This year has been a huge strain on so many lives.

It has been difficult too, to carry out the work of the parish or town council. One of the mainstays of council work is to hold meetings where issues are debated, and decisions are made. An important part of this is the ability of your parishoners to attend and comment on any of the issues.

This has not been easy. Zoom has usually been the application of choice to carry out remote meetings, but it can be far from ideal. There can be problems with setting up the meetings, people being unable to connect or even for the meeting host to connect and start the meeting.

Until recently Zoom allowed unlimited time for multi-user meetings, but that has now ended. In order to hold meetings longer than 40 minutes, you must buy a premium subscription.

So I’m sure everyone is asking, when will councils be able to resume having town or parish council meetings in public spaces such as the village hall.

A slight easing of lockdown that came into force just over 2 weeks ago. You are now able to get haircuts, go shopping and meet limited numbers of friends outside. However, you are still not allowed to meet with others outside your household indoors.

England: covid restrictions

17 May – Up to 6 can meet indoors

The next step will occur on 17th of May. From then on, people can meet in groups of up to 30 outside, and up to 6 people can meet indoors.

This may mean that smaller parish councils can resume their parish council meetings. However, that will still not be enough for larger councils or ones where a lot of your parishoners will wish to attend.

21 June – relaxation of all covid restrictions

21 June will be when the final stage of lockdown release happens. After that date it is hoped that all legal limits on social contact will be removed. That will mean that parish council meetings will be able to resume in their full format.

Scotland: covid restrictions

26 April – up to 6 people can meet outdoors.

17 May – people should be allowed to meet up indoors – initially in groups of up to 4 people from no more than 2 households.

7 June – council meetings will be able to resume.

Wales: covid restrictions

3 May – indoor activities for up to 15 adults.

17 May – up to 30 people can meet indoors.