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Council agrees to replace old IT stock at cost of almost £200k

Taxpayers are to fork out almost £200,000 on replacing ageing IT equipment to help a council cope with increasing demand after the coronavirus pandemic.

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Stafford Borough Council said its computer infrastructure gear needs to be replaced “as a priority” to avoid network failure which could disrupt the delivery of its services and affect residents, a new report stated.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday members agreed to allocate £198,904 from council reserves towards buying up-to-date machines. The cabinet report said: “The council has an ageing infrastructure which needs to be replaced as a priority to avoid a network failure and ensure ongoing service delivery.

“It is proposed to replace the equipment in 2024/25 and to establish a rolling refresh programme for ongoing replacements every eight-10 years. Historically there has been no provision in the technology strategy for day-today housekeeping and maintenance of assets.

“Custom and practise has been to retain assets for as long as possible and only to replace when essential to do so. The current network infrastructure is approximately 17-years-old and is now frequently failing under the workload.

“There is a growing demand on the network since the pandemic. This increased pressure on the existing infrastructure and the growing use of cloud-based solutions needs investment. Furthermore, work is required to strengthen the network infrastructure before we can start any development work on any major shared services transformation that may be required.

“The key element of the network that needs to be replaced is the switches. A network switch has an average lifespan of between five and ten years.

“Factors such as repeated power failures and surges may shorten this timeframe. The switches on site were installed in 2009 making them 14+ years old.”

Deputy council leader Rob Kenney told members the equipment was “a vital part of the workings of the borough”.

Councillor Ian Fordham said: “The recommendation is necessary. It’s interesting to see the introduction of provisions across the lifetime of such assets. I see that as a very positive step.”

Councillor Ant Reid said: “There has been a history of no provision of no replacements until something breaks. I love the fact this new approach is going to be one about resilience, minimising the risk of catastrophic failure.

“We need to do this now. We should have seen investment more strategically earlier and I’m glad we’re getting to grips with the problem.”

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