Havering councillors offered iPads as part of “savings plans”

Havering Council has spent

more than �10,000 on trendy iPads for councillors and staff – in a bid to make savings.

Council leader Cllr Michael White insists investment in the Apple gadgets will bring long-term reductions in paper, printing and travelling costs, and in other “unquantifiable” areas.

The iPads, a handheld touchscreen the size of a large book, allow users to view documents, such as meeting agendas, work online, and access emails.

“Councillors spend around �200,000 in printing and paper a year; these iPads will save tens of thousands,” said Cllr White.

“It also increases efficiency, as we can do things like view Google maps rather than visiting sites, saving money in transport and staff time – although these costs are unquantifiable.”

Piloted

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Cllr White piloted the iPad between November last year and February, and since then the authority has forked out �10,115 on the computers for 18 councillors – both in the administration and opposition – and some officers.

But every councillor will be offered the computer in the coming weeks, although not all are expected to take up the proposal.

Leader of the opposition Cllr Clarence Barrett said: “The money comes out of the �600 IT allowance members are allocated for their [four-year] term, so I don’t see a problem with councillors using it as they see fit.

“The issue is, as with anything that comes from public funds, whether the purchase represents value for money. That remains to be seen.”

Deal

Current iPads cost around �500, but Cllr White said a deal brokered with supplier T-mobile means the council has acquired older models for between �100 and �150 each.

The coveted devices use the latest online apps but will not take CDs or USB sticks.

Cllr White said: “There are no licensing costs, which means more efficiencies.”

A total of 19 officers are also currently using iPads, including planning and social services staff, who tend to work remotely.

The council could not say how much more it was planning to spend on iPads, instead the devices would be considered for workers on “case-by-case” basis.

Details of the iPads came after a Freedom of Information request by resident Lorraine Moss, who noticed Cllr White using one in meetings.

The council needs to shave �14m from its budget over three years.

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