We don’t often find ourselves agreeing with the TaxPayers’ Alliance, but plans by councillors at Leicester City Council to award themselves a nice, new, top of the range Apple iPad each really is something else.
Noses in the iTrough
After four councillors managed to blag a trial of the £699 devices, everyone else decided they wanted one too.
Labour councillor Sarah Russell told the Telegraph, ”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, then the council could potentially save £90,000 each year. I have a laptop but it is quite heavy, meaning it is awkward to take to several meetings in a day.”
”It also has to be charged much more regularly than an iPad,” she whined, while we wonder just how long she spends away from a power socket every day.
Cuts galore, shiny new toys for the boys
With the council recently announcing its intention to introduce £100 million worth of cuts to services and axe 1,000 jobs over the next four years, we’re having trouble mustering up any sympathy for poor Sarah and her ‘heavy’ laptop.
Tory group leader Ross Grant – who was one of the first to bag a freebie iPad on trial – insists that the top of the range consumer device has made him ”more productive” as a councillor, enthusing:
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 e-mailed as PDF files to the iPad so I no longer need printed documents. This could save the council money in the long term.
We would have thought a netbook costing less than half of the price would do that job just as effectively – heck, just about any smartphone is capable of reading PDFs and accessing the web on the move – but I guess they won’t make the Tory boy look as stylish and hip on the street.
We also wonder how long Mr Grant will keep his iPad if he struts around the poorer areas of the town soon to be blighted by cuts making “notes” and “researching problems” in the streets.
Matthew Sinclair, Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance was suitably unimpressed:
“It is right that the council should try to avoid wasting paper where they can. But incredible that they think that means providing councillors with flash new iPads at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds.
A small, affordable laptop would do the same job, though it certainly wouldn’t be as exciting a perk for the councillors.
GMB union chief Richard Taylor was also equally outraged by the council’s decision:
I think it is utterly disgusting that when the council itself admits it may have to axe 1,000 jobs, it is planning to equip all the councillors with an iPad.
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. And yet they think it’s OK to spend £700 a time on iPads for councillors.
If the council come to their senses, they are welcome to browse our selection of top netbooks, all offering the ability to read PDFs, make notes and research issues for substantially less than an iPad – and they’re all light enough not to upset poor old Sarah, and come with an excellent battery life too.
Drop the councillors a personal note
If you’re living in Leicester, why not drop your local councillor and perhaps offer some cheaper alternatives to the iPad? Or maybe suggest how their money may be spend more effectively?
You can find the councillor’s personal webpages here. Drop us a line if you get a response.