Councillors could all be given iPads
PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 September 2013
MORE than £80,000 could be spent by North Somerset Council buying iPads for all councillors.
The unitary authority has for the past year been trialling the use of tablet computers to assess whether they can be beneficial for councillors’ work.
At the conclusion of the trial, a committee has recommended to the executive rolling out the initiative to all members.
Papers prepared for the community and corporate organisation policy and scrutiny panel say the move would provide better working practices for councillors, allowing them to access emails and information remotely.
It would also mean the council could reduce the amount of printing it carries out and would eventually no longer need to distribute committee papers to members.
The cost of rolling out the initiative so all 61 North Somerset councillors have iPads would be £83,000 followed by estimated annual running costs of £19,300.
According to the unitary authority, the £83,000 would cover buying the necessary equipment, carrying out training and developing specialist software so committee papers can be annotated.
Eight councillors already have iPads after taking part in the trial and another councillor with special requirements has one.
All five of the authority’s assistant executive members also have iPad mini devices and they will be asked whether they are happy with them or would like a larger one.
If they decide to take a larger iPad, the mini devices will be redeployed within the council.
This would mean the authority may need to buy up to 52 new devices, which can range from £200-600 each.
The meeting papers say the initial spend would be paid for from the authority’s existing budget for members’ ICT and through savings made in future years. The annual associated costs would be offset against the £22,000 the council hopes to save in printing costs and the £34,000 it currently spends distributing papers to councillors each year.
During the recent cross-party trial, members tried out both iPads and Samsung Galaxy tablets, with the Apple device coming out on top.
According to the meeting papers ‘the pilot group universally concluded that mobile technology delivered through the Apple iPad would significantly improve members’ abilities to fulfil their duties as councillors’.
The move comes during a period of unprecedented austerity at the council, as it looks to trim £92million from its spending by 2018.