Wednesday, August 10, 2011


REPOST. Originally posted within The Mikiverse, August 3, 2010.

By Andy Dolan 3rd August 2010


Value for money? Leicester City council has been criticised over plans to spend £40,000 of taxpayers' money on iPads

Sleek, shiny and stylish, they are hardly standard-issue council equipment.

But that hasn't stopped a cash-strapped council deciding that the fashionable iPad is a must-have gadget for its elected members.

Leicester City Council is planning to buy the Apple devices for each of its 54 councillors, at a cost to the taxpayer of nearly £40,000.

Just last month, the authority revealed it would have to find £100million of savings and axe 1,000 jobs to cope with cuts in Whitehall funding over the next four years.

But it emerged last night that the Labour-run council has ordered four of the tablet computers, which cost between £429 and £699 depending on specification, for a cross-party trial.

And if the iPads are deemed a success, they will be rolled out to the other 50 councillors from next May.

One of those involved in the trial claimed the devices would solve the problem of carrying 'heavy' laptops, while another said the wi-fi enabled gadgets would allow councillors to work on the move.

But the council has been criticised for the decision to spend taxpayers' cash on the iPads, which went on sale in the UK three months ago.

Councillor Sarah Russell, Labour representative for the Westcotes ward, is awaiting delivery of the top-of-the-range 64 gigabyte model.

She said: 'We're trying out the iPad to see whether it improves the way we work as councillors. If it does, and it can replace costly printing, the council could save £90,000 each year.'

Conservative group leader Ross Grant, who represents the Knighton ward, said: 'Whenever a constituent stops me in the street I can write down and begin researching their problem immediately on the iPad, because I'm connected to the internet right around the city.

'Also, when I'm in key meetings I've asked for council agendas to be emailed as PDF files to the iPad so I no longer need printed documents.'

Leicester City Council is preparing to hand out 54 of the popular new gadgets despite 1,000 anticipated job cuts

Leicester City Council is preparing to hand out 54 of the popular new gadgets despite 1,000 anticipated job cuts.

But one senior councillor admitted: 'I suppose it'll be handy to have, but the expense is a little bit awkward at a time of cuts.'

Matthew Sinclair, research director of the TaxPayers' Alliance pressure-group, said: 'It is right that the council should try to avoid wasting paper where they can, but that does not mean providing councillors with flash new iPads at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds.

'This reflects the fact that many councillors are embracing new, paperless and more mobile ways of working. We are fully aware of the pressures on public finances and if there are no efficiencies to be achieved, the trial will not go any further.'

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