Leicester City Council might spend thousands on iPads


Leicester City Council is considering spending tens of thousands of pounds on giving an iPad to each of its councillors.

Four of the 54 local council members have already been trialling the tablet device but, if the decision is made that enough "efficiencies" have been found, it will make the call to furnish all of them with the flagship Apple product.

The total cost of the iPads for all the councillors could reach 40,000.

The trial of the device is going ahead despite the council admitting to the BBC last week it needed to cut 7.7 million from the budget this year and could need to find 100 million in savings by 2015. It even admitted that up to 1,000 jobs could be under threat.

Councillor and leader of Leicester's Conservative group, Ross Grant, defended the move on his blog.

"Much of the benefit derived from the format and how iOS works is that you can immediately engage with people you meet, not open up a shoulder bag and boot up (and possibly then find a power socket too)," he wrote.

Richard Taylor, the chief of the GMB union, told the Daily Mirror the move was "utterly disgusting when the council itself admits it may have to axe 1,000 jobs,"

He added: "The council knows it must save millions over the next few years, so what it is thinking about with this ridiculous plan is beyond me."

"We are talking about frontline services being cut, which could mean getting rid of people who tidy streets, empty bins and care for the elderly and vulnerable in care homes yet they think it's OK to spend 700 a time on iPads for councillors."

In a statement emailed to IT PRO, a spokesperson for the Council said: "This [trial] reflects the fact that many councillors are embracing new, paperless and more mobile ways of working."

The spokesperson claimed the initial four iPads had been paid for using the councillor's support allowances which are "fixed [sums] given annually to help them buy equipment to carry out their duties." But they said other councillors would not be getting hold of the tablet until a review early next year on whether using them saves money and helps councillors respond "more efficiently" to their tasks.

"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," the statement concluded.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.