THE leader of Hyndburn Council has agreed to order an inquiry into the loss of £591,000 after calling a community website a "desperate Government failure".
The Hyndburn Life portal was launched in 2003 with the aim of providing online information about resources and services to benefit residents and businesses in the borough's most deprived wards.
However, the website failed to attract many visitors and Labour leader Councillor Graham Jones has called it "a waste of money".
A report before the website was launched said it would "develop a community building tool which will enable better access to information and exchange of information".
But at the latest meeting of the full council on Monday night, Councillor Jones said that the website had not met any of the five criteria set out in the proposals.
He added: "Did anyone not ask to justify this money? Actually, I suppose we don't expect things to be open in this council today, do we?
"It was shotgun politics - the council could have said no but it didn't. We have been told that it has failed.''
He told Councillor Britcliffe: "The portal is the council's responsibility.
"This has gone on under your administration and you have let it carry on. You are a disgrace."
Cash to fund the project consisted of £75,000 from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), £266,000 from the Single Regeneration Budget and a further £250,000 from the European Regional Development Fund.
Councillor Jones claims that the council was unable to maintain the site because of chronic staff shortages.
Councillor John Griffiths said it was hoped that the site would become self-supporting once businesses and community groups jumped on board.
But there was limited funding and the ODPM "seemed to run out of money".
Councillor Britcliffe said that he would support an inquiry into the project and added: "The aim was to give people in deprived areas access to the Internet.
"But things move on. These community representatives now have access to the Internet and they don't need to take us on.
"It's a desperate Government failure."
A non-political inquiry will be held into the financing, management and monitoring of Hyndburn Life and a report will go to Cabinet and the council no later than 20 February.