Saddo IT bosses at Tameside Council in Greater Manchester splurged £36,000 on a virtual town hall in Second Life in an effort to use “modern ways” to communicate with citizens.
However, the council scrapped it after one year because very little interest was shown in the service.
Liam Billington put in a FoI request to the authority to find out how much it had spent on Sadville. He also asked for a breakdown of costs including monthly rent, the number of staff using the “project” and the cost of their time.
The council’s IT staff “rented” an island and built a virtual town hall in the hope of encouraging Tameside locals to access the authority’s services via Sadville.
They also spent more than £6,000 on a virtual museum and another £400 on a “black knight on a horse” statue.
Figures released by the council revealed that Tameside spent a total of £36,665 on the aborted service, which ran from early 2009 to the end of March this year.
“We were looking at innovative and modern ways to communicate with citizens at reduced costs and online transactions are the cheapest way to do this,” said Tameside’s ICT assistant exec director Norman Crawford in FoI response.
“As interest in Second Life did not expand we decided not to go to the next stage. The site was not retained after the contract ran out.”
It's not clear what the "next stage" may have involved. Meanwhile, we at Vulture Central are off to buy a virtual "IT council boss on a donkey" statue. ®