Brent Council plan to give every councillor a free iPad - at the cost of �46,000 to taxpayers
Town hall splashes out on state-of-the art Apple gadget while closing libraries and day care centres
Cash-strapped Brent Council is planning to give every councillor a free iPad – costing the taxpayer up to �46,000.
The local authority has made multi-million pound budget cuts to services across the borough, including the closure of libraries and day care centres for the disabled.
Yet it has emerged that the Labour-run council has rolled out 65 new Apple tablets to staff and 14 elected members at a cost of �405 each – a total of more than �26,000.
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If the trial is successful, each of the 63 councillors will have one.
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Councillors already receive a basic allowance of �7,974 a year while an Executive member gets an extra �14,969, taking the total to almost �23,000.
The leader of the council’s total allowance is �43,196 a year.
The council says issuing iPads to councillors will save money in the long term by cutting the amount spent on printing paper reports.
But the plans have been criticised for spending taxpayers’ money.
Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers don’t mind paying for technology to help councillors do their job, but this is a premium product and there are cheaper options.
“Very few residents in the area will be able to splash out an iPad so why should councillors be handed them for free? “This looks like an expensive experiment and could have been trialled on a smaller scale.”
Those who receive one of the fashionable gadgets will also be given 3G internet access, which will be paid for under the council’s telephone contract.
However, they will have to hand back their Blackberry mobile phones.
A council spokesman said: “iPads enable much more efficient and flexible working and increased levels of productivity.
“Colleagues will be able to work away from the office, eliminating hours everyday of needless travel.
“Combined with making some meetings paperless, we expect the savings to justify the investment within the first year.”
What do you think? Should councillors and members of staff at Brent Council be given iPads? Email firstname.lastname@example.org