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Mixed response to Craven councillors iPad plans
Plans to provide £400 iPads for Craven councillors from early next year have been given a mixed response.
Although councillors were generally in support of being equipped with tablet computers to comply with data-protection laws and to reduce paper costs, they urged officers to consider cheaper alternatives.
Coun David Staveley (Cons) accused officers of choosing the most expensive option.
“I am concerned that you’ve gone straight for the top-end machines. This looks like we’re squandering public money,” he said.
Coun Staveley further questioned how four iPads had already been bought by officers without consultation.
Last week’s select committee was told the four iPads already purchased were currently being trialled by two councillors and two officers.
Members were told the council needed to be in control of e-mails and that the use of private addresses needed to be stopped in order for it to remove the risk of being in breach of data-protection laws and potential fines of up to £140,000.
The committee was also told the use of tablet computers would mean the council moving to paperless working, would reduce costs of sending out agendas and at meetings councillors would have immediate access to all current and background information.
But committee chairman John Roberts (Cons) said although they needed to move forward and comply with regulations they also needed to take into account how investing in the technology would look to council tax payers.
“I don’t disagree that we have to look forward and there is a lot of waste in our system, but all this has to be justified and we have to prove to people that we are not wasting money,” he said.
Heather Eagland, from the council’s IT department, told councillors that different devices had been considered but the iPad was the most efficient and user-friendly.
Coun Carl Lis (Cons), one of the two councillors trying out an iPad, admitted that the issue was a “hot potato” but urged councillors to consider data protection.
And he referred to how a councillor had recently left some private papers, which had been returned to the council, but how they could have ended up being passed on to a newspaper and resulted in a large fine for the council.
Officers will return with a business case to the committee next month with a view to councillors being provided with tablets from early next year.