Brent councillors fail to return Blackberry phones after being given iPads

Taxpayers left to foot bill totalling thousands of pounds in the last six months

Councillors are continuing to rack up thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on gadgets that were supposed to have been handed back six months ago, the Times can reveal.

In May, the Times exclusively revealed that Brent Council would be handing out iPads to all 63 councillors from all parties, a move which cost around �46,000.

The trendy Apple products, which cost around �405 each, were meant as a replacement for the Blackberry phones that were previously used and councillors were told at the time it was an “either or” situation.

However, the Times can now reveal that in the six months since the iPads were handed out, only 11 Blackberry phones have been returned. A number of laptops have also not been returned.

The smart phones, which cost around �300 each, are paid for on a monthly contract costing more than �1,000 per month in total.

The news has angered campaigners who claim they should be handed back.

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Robert Oxley, campaign manager for the Tax Payers Alliance said: “It’s unacceptable for councillors to refuse to hand back taxpayer funded gadgets when asked to. Handing out the latest iPads was meant to be a cost-saving measure.

“If councillors are hanging on to their gadgets that will cancel out any possible savings.”

In an email sent this week to councillors and officers and seen by the Times, they are urged to return the Blackberries. It says: “Please may I urge you to return your Blackberries and Laptops given that an iPad has been issued?

“It is imperative that these are returned prior to their disablement.”

The council argues that using ipads will improve efficiency and save on printing costs in the long term and that savings will be justified within a year.

Cllr Carol Shaw, (Lib Dem) a councillor for the Brondesbury Park ward, turned down an iPad.

She said: “Surely the money accumulated from all this would have been better spent on community facilities rather than councillors. After all it is taxpayers’ money and we are here to fight the taxpayers’ corner.”

However, the council claims not all the Blackberries are still on contract. A spokesman said: “In some cases there may be a short delay in councillors returning older equipment. This is to give people a chance to get used to the new technology and ensure that there are no teething problems.”