By 2020 Swindon Borough Council will be a “digital first” council. By this we mean that, over the next two years, an increasing number of services will be moved online.

It is a major part of our drive to change the way we interact with our customers and to ensure the services we provide are easy to access and the best they can possibly be.

That is why a very important item will be brought before cabinet next Wednesday.

The results of a recent consultation on our draft Customer Access Strategy will be shared with members as we look at how the council can improve customer access for the future.

In short, we want to be a resident-focused, 21st century council with our fingers firmly on the pulse of modernity.

Our draft strategy focuses on two important things: a plan to ensure that 85 per cent of customer transactions are completed online by 2020 and that serious consideration is given to making sure that people who are not plugged in to the digital universe are not left behind.

A public consultation on this draft strategy took place over seven weeks this summer, and the results are highly encouraging.

Almost 80 per cent of respondents identified as being either very or extremely confident about accessing services online and 69 per cent said that the internet would actually be their preferred way of engaging with the council.

Interestingly, and perhaps contrary to the notion that it is the elderly among us who are not suitably “tech-savvy”, the web was the preferred channel for all age groups up to the age of 84.

It is important to stress that implementing the Customer Access Strategy will not mean that residents see a reduction in the quality or accessibility of the services they receive.

On the contrary, we want to give people more control over when and where they contact us by making our services more convenient and accessible.

As councillors, the role we will play in delivering this strategy is significant.

Elected members are community leaders who are fully conversant with the things that matter to local people, and we must utilise their experience, knowledge and connections to find the best ways of being able to reach people who are digitally excluded.

If cabinet agrees to adopt the Customer Access Strategy next week, residents can look forward to a future in which engaging with council services is quick, easy and efficient.

We would encourage everyone who can, to access our services through the website at