CUMBRIA County Council has been awarded the highest rating for its website - for the first time ever.

Previously the authority's has scored a two star and a three star ranking but it has shot up to a four star rating after a recent inspection.

Independent public sector IT body SOCITM ranked it for content, functionality and user-friendliness.

SOCITIM - the Society of Information Technology Management - analyses hundreds of local authority websites.

Cumbria was named among just five county councils with a four-star site – the others being Dorset, Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey.

The county council said it equates to its website being in the top seven per cent of local authorities.

Three of Cumbria's district councils – Allerdale, Carlisle and Eden – also won four-star ratings.

In its rating, SOCITM said: “On the whole, this is a very easy site to navigate and there is a lot of very useful content. The mobile version works quite well… The completion of the tasks was consistently good.”

Coun Ian Stewart, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member responsible for organisational change including ICT, said: “I’m delighted that the hard work of everyone who works on the council’s website has been recognised and rewarded. Providing information and services digitally is a crucial part of any modern local authority’s work and it is heartening to hear that we are performing up there with the elite.

“The council’s website is not perfect and we are always looking to innovate and improve. SOCITM’s input also helps us identify areas where we can work this year to make the service even better.”