Major blaze hits council ICT

South Oxfordshire District Council is battling to restore its ICT data and infrastructure after a major fire destroyed much of its headquarters.

The council building, shared with Vale of White Horse District Council was hit by a suspected arson attack yesterday morning.

In the wake of the blaze, the council’s website has gone offline, along with internal networks.

A statement on a temporary website established by the council said: “We’re currently working very hard to get our ICT and phone systems back to normal.

“Whilst some of our services like waste and leisure are working as normal, we are politely asking anybody with a general enquiry to bear with us and not to call until we are able to restore our IT and telephone systems in full. “

Speaking to today, Nick Roberts, president of Socitm, the representative body for council ICT professionals said: “I spoke to Andrew Down, head of ICT at South Oxfordshire yesterday lunchtime to offer him my support.

“The first thing which struck me was how calm he sounded, which suggests the disaster recovery plan is working well.”

Roberts said that council data would be backed up internally every day on servers in a fireproof safe, but the severity of the fire meant that it may have to rely on offsite backups which take place every two or three days, to restore data.

He added that the council’s core operating systems and applications will need to be patched to bring them back online.

“They should have all the data and a master copy of the systems. They have the capability to get the data back, but it may take some time.”

The council’s insurance assessors will inspect the council buildings later today to work out the extent of damage.

Reports say that the fire was started by a local man who had been in a planning dispute involving the council and a neighbour.

A 47 year old man has been arrested and is being questioned by police following the incident.

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