Aubergine: A 60 Minute Masterclass in Web Accessibility and gov.uk

Join Mark Tomkins from Aubergine for a FREE 60 minute masterclass in website accessibility and gov.uk – tips, guidance and best practice for making sure your parish and town council website and its content are accessible and compliant.

The session includes testing tips, formatting and how to make the web pages and documents accessible and how it all fits with improving the council’s online presence with a .gov.uk domain’

We’ll cover:

  • Most common accessibility fail points- what to look out for
  • Accessible document & file formats
  • Headings, text formatting and styling
  • How to check your site for accessibility easily and freely
  • Page structuring – what and where to place content for best accessibility
  • Setting up a checking process
  • Link formatting
  • Maintaining compliance with accessibility laws & Transparency Code
  • How to treat images & video in an accessible way
  • Using .gov.uk domains – what’s involved, and why you should do it.

Biography

Mark Tomkins is the Founder and Creative Director at National Digital Award Gold Award winning, Aubergine and website accessibility expert & champion. Aubergine are the UK’s leaders in providing fully compliant and accessible websites for town & parish councils and official partner of SLCC for the provision if compliant websites for councils.

Mark has over 30+ years experience in the web industry.

Aubergine are the authors of the NALC Website Accessibility & Publishing Guidebook and are advisors to 500+ town & parish councils on website accessibility compliance. They also provide advice and guidance on the .gov.uk domain framework and are JISC and CDDO authorised to register and manage .gov.uk domains.

Mark is an experienced public speaker & trainer as well as being a parish councillor of 10+ years in his private life and is ILCA qualified, too.

Lemon Booking – new booking system and website editor

LemonBooking provides an all-in-one software package specifically designed for community venues including halls, sports facilities, schools, libraries and community centres. You can use LemonBooking to manage your website, process booking requests, receive online payments, sell tickets for events and much more. It is user-friendly, for staff and customers alike, and easy to set up.

During this online demo we’ll explore how you can use LemonBooking to manage your venue bookings, take online payments and sell tickets for events. We’ll also look at how you can connect LemonBooking to an existing website or build a new one using the LemonBooking website editor (CMS). You will be able to ask questions throughout!

LemonBooking is available as a monthly or an annual subscription. No set up fees. Cancel anytime.

LemonBooking are also offering a 10% discount on the first year’s subscription for attendees who choose to sign up. Valid for three months following the session!

 

 

Clear Utility Solutions – how they can help with your energy bills!

Clear Utility Solutions partners with DALC to help our members with their energy bills – read their update on the energy market and how can they help your council.

Clear Utility Solutions have been working hard to help the members of DALC with their energy bills and are pleased to report the below highlights of the Scheme Partnership to date:

  • 14 Town or Parish Councils have enquired and taken up our services
  • We have saved an average of £1,346 annually per council
  • Understanding of processes within the Council world – price change, scheduled council meetings, part time working hours

 UK Energy is a hot topic at the moment especially within the commercial sector, we have found that when dealing with councils nationally – 30% are sitting on an inflated tariff, now more than ever our advice would be to check your energy bills, we are on hand to assist via our DALC partnership online portal or via telephone 0333 344 7749 (local rate).

Energy has become a permanent feature of our news over the last year whilst wholesale prices have rocketed but the good news is that it seems likely the worst is behind us and once again, there is a choice of comparatively good tariffs on the market if you know where to look. And although energy prices fluctuate and suppliers can increase and decrease their tariffs seemingly at random, good deals can now generally always be found.

The UK wholesale market has decreased markedly in the last six weeks and despite the cold weather continuing and news of snow on the way for parts of the UK in March, the wholesale markets are still below the levels they were at before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February which is great news.

The ongoing downward trend and stability in global energy prices has seen the return of competition in the domestic energy market and in some cases, commercial tariffs are now cheaper than their domestic alternatives. Wholesale prices have also been below the minimum amount set by Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy for the whole of February for its Energy Bill Relief Scheme and also the replacement EBDS which is great news.

Now the outlook has stabilised and further reductions are less likely, longer term contracts at acceptable rates have also made a return to suppliers’ offerings and they are similar in price to shorter term contracts making them more attractive than they have been for much of last year.

Whilst cheaper energy prices means we can all breathe a sigh of relief, we mustn’t let our guard down. As many as thirty percent of the customers the team at Clear Utility Solutions speak to every day are now on an out of contract or variable tariff and this is a huge uptick on what we have seen previously. Being on a variable tariff made sense when prices were rising quickly as these types of tariff were often cheaper and a far better option than fixing on higher rates. Now prices have recovered somewhat, it is incredibly important to check what tariff you are on as you may be able to save 40 or 50 percent on your current bill. Some suppliers make this information very clear such as British Gas who include your contractual information in a blue box on page one of their bill but other suppliers are less forthcoming. If you at all unsure, please get in touch and one of the team will be more than happy to take a look for you.

 The team at Clear Utility Solutions has been as busy as ever working to secure the best possible prices from our panel of suppliers for DevonALC members and continues to offer our best advice on all energy and water contracts so please give us a call on 0333 344 7749 or visit our Devon ALC portal.


Read more about our partnership with Clear Utility Solutions and how they can help your council.

DCW Polymers – from bins to benches

Advertorial

DCW Polymers.

From Bins to Benches

 

How DCW is supporting sustainability, recycling and the circular economy in Devon

We all want to do our bit to protect the planet and make a positive impact on climate change to benefit future generations, but what steps can be taken by local parish councils to start making a difference? Introducing DCW, a Devon-based business that is leading the way in creating a more circular economy across the South West.

DCW is an Exeter-based business that provides commercial waste collection and recycling services across the beautiful county of Devon and beyond. This thriving family-owned business has been trading for 33 years, and has grown to become the region’s most successful independent waste management and recycling firm. In fact, it was the first to offer a Zero-to-Landfill solution in the South West.

Today the business operates out of four sites covering Devon, Cornwall and much of Somerset too, with improving recycling rates across the region at the heart of all that they do. DCW aims to recover as much recyclable material as possible from its commercial customers’ waste, with any residual wastes being converted to energy via waste-to-energy incineration plants.

DCW Polymers is the division of the business responsible for recycling plastic waste. Based in Exeter, the recycling experts collect and reprocess hundreds of tonnes of waste plastics, turning it into flakes and granules which go back into the manufacturing process and reduce the need for virgin plastic products to be made, ensuring that this valuable material is not lost to landfill or incineration. In 2021, DCW Polymers invested in new processing equipment which they hoped would enable them to convert some of these recovered plastic granules into new products. After a lot of trial, error and extensive testing, the process was refined and a new range of outdoor furniture products was developed. Over the last 18 months, the business has continued to develop the process and has invested in even more equipment to scale up the manufacturing process.

DCW now offers a range of outdoor products that includes tables, chairs, benches, picnic benches, decking, dog agility equipment, playground equipment, fencing components, decking and much more. DCW’s ethos is to minimise the carbon footprint of the plastic waste journey. The waste plastics are collected from businesses across Devon, taken to DCW Polymers to be processed, and extruded into planks, rails and posts. From these recycled profiles, DCW’s team of skilled staff hand-build all products, which are then ready to be sold to customers across Devon and beyond.

A sustainable alternative to timber, the furniture range is maintenance-free and long-lasting. With a 25 year guarantee, the stylish furniture is weatherproof, will not rot, splinter or corrode or ever require painting or treating.

2022 was an exceptionally busy and exciting year for DCW Polymers. Further products were designed and added to the range, the team built hundreds of tables, chairs and benches and supplied miles of fencing and decking. Their efforts to make a difference to the circular economy in the South West didn’t go unnoticed as DCW was nominated for two prestigious awards, winning the Manufacturer of the Year award at Insider’s Made in the South West Awards. DCW also achieved the Trading Standards approved Made in Devon accreditation.

Several Devon parish councils and local authorities have already invested in our benches, and we hope that we can continue to work closely with communities across Devon. We are also open to new opportunities to work with communities in setting up local collections of certain plastics that we can recycle into new products.

DCW has a showroom at its Exeter site, the Enviro Hub, Marsh Barton Road, EX2 8NU, where visitors can view the recycled furniture products and find out more about the manufacturing process.

For more details on DCW’s recycled furniture range, please visit www.dcw.co.uk/recycled-products/

To contact DCW for more information, call 01392 361300 or email sales@dcw.co.uk.

New partnership offers £0 set up fees for purpose built council software

We are delighted to announce our new partnership with Scribe, offering £0 set up fees for purpose built parish and town council software.

 

Person working on laptop

The role of a local council officer is many and varied, and often carries responsibilities to manage local assets, maintain records and produce reports.

We are delighted therefore to be teaming up with Scribe, a provider of purpose-built, easy-to-use, cloud-based applications that can help councils to work smarter and with pinpoint accuracy. Scribe offer a range of software solutions including: accounts, bookings and cemetery management systems.

 

Three council software products available now

Manage financial accounts, including Annual Return/Year-End, Invoicing, Bank Reconciliations, Making Tax Digital, Budgeting & Forecasting.

Manage venue bookings, single and block, preferential rates, reminders and notifications, and online public bookings, payments and invoicing.

Manage cemetery records, burial register, mapping, inspections, transfer exclusive rights to new applicants and keep a record of trail and invoicing.

All products are supported with award-winning training and support.

An exclusive deal for our members

Devon ALC member councils can subscribe for any of these products with £0 set up fee, equivalent to a 40% discount for the first year.

Contact Scribe today for your exclusive discount

And there’s more …

Devon ALC members can also access free toolkits and guides including:

Devon councils can save carbon and cash comparing energy

Working in partnership with Clear Utility Solutions, we are able to offer a new energy comparison service for parish and town councils in Devon, saving you time and money!

Clear Utility Solutions

Whilst it can be an easily overlooked area of responsibility for busy council clerks, making sure that the energy consumed by council properties and streetlights is competitive and responsibly sourced can reap rewards for both the environment and the council’s purse.

As a non-domestic entity, it can be daunting for the clerks of smaller councils to wade into the difficult waters of arranging a commercial utility contract which, by definition, comes without the assurances and protections of similar domestic arrangements. Often the inherited incumbent supplier is chosen as a safe bet against the myriad of small and large energy companies that now operate in the UK energy market; fears also abound over collapsed energy companies and rogue energy salespeople.

Many clerks opt to carry out their own independent market reviews to find the right deal for them, however many suppliers do not offer suitable tariffs for unmetered supplies, making finding a good deal both time consuming and difficult. As a result, some clerks have turned to the services of energy consultants and brokers who guide them to suitable deals and suppliers who are able to service their respective needs.

Our new utility partner

Clear utility Solutions, has partnered with DALC and is committed to bringing greener and more cost-effective energy tariffs to DALC members countywide.

The scheme, similar to those already running in 14 other county associations, is focussed on ensuring local clerks have access to an easy and convenient energy comparison service which, with minimal time and effort, has been successful in helping them to secure more suitable contracts for their energy needs. With a firm focus on renewable energy and cost reduction, the scheme has enabled local clerks to purchase tailored energy contracts from reputable energy suppliers in a way that was previously not possible.

Clear Utility Solutions logo
  • Commercial Energy Consultancy
  • Free to use
  • Act as a bridge between consumer and supplier
  • Have relationships with 25 different suppliers
  • Contract Bucket – increased buying power as a national scheme
  • Local and Town Council specialists

Nationally the scheme has helped parish and town councils save over £100,000 for their respective precepts and the scheme goal of supplying wholly renewable power where possible has meant that over 488,000kg CO2 of carbon emissions have been prevented.

Many suppliers are still billing councils on standard or variable tariffs that can be as much as 40% more than comparable fixed deals. As such, councils that are on these standard tariffs with their respective suppliers may well be missing out on potential savings for their precepts. With energy prices set to rise and uncertainty over how Brexit will affect the cost of the approximately 12% of gas and 5% of electricity the UK currently imports from the EU, making sure you have the right deal for your energy has never been more important.

Use our partnership portal to access our new utilities comparison service

Clear Utility Solutions banner advert

Testimonial

Danny Moody, Chief Executive

“Northants CALC is the membership body for all the parish and town councils in Northamptonshire. We recently partnered with Clear Utility Solutions to create a buying group for our member councils and we are already generating cash savings, and carbon savings too by choosing green energy suppliers. CUS has taken the time to learn about our market and the service provided has been exemplary”

£38,000 of public money saved
124,000 kg CO2E emissions prevented

Danny Moody, Chief Executive Northants CALC

Let us know how well this service works for you?

As a new service and partnership, your feedback is very important to us.  So please let us know how you get on!