A council has been publicly forced to deny plans it would invest up to £30,000 on 46 Apple iPads in a bid to enhance its green credentials. The money would have come from a £250,000 climate change fund, paid for by local taxpayers.
Cambridge City Council responded to national and local reports with a council website post regarding proposals to purchase iPads for use by councillors. "Proposals for addressing Councillor ICT requirements are due to be submitted to Cambridge City Council Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee on 29 March 2010."
"One option to be addressed by these proposals is the use of notebook and tablet devices as a way to reduce paper, printing and waste disposal costs associated with committee reports.
"The Apple iPad is not being considered for this purpose."
"At least one Cambridge City Councillor already uses a device of their own for this purpose, and discussion of whether devices should be provided to other Councillors has appeared on the blogs of a private individual and a Cambridge City Councillor."
"No plans have been agreed to date to fund the provision of devices and any plans to do so will be decided at Cambridge City Council Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee on 29 March 2010."
Typically, initial reports of plans to buy iPads didn't go down well with local political opposition and some residents, self-appointed taxpayer groups and local and national press.
"I do not think we need fancy technology to do our job," Labour group leader Cllr Lewis Herbert told the Daily Mail tabloid newspaper. "The cost of replacing paper with iPads would be far more than the gadgets themselves as the council will go through a management contract."
Cllr Herbert also highlighed how fast new technology becomes outmoded or obsolete.
"Technology changes every year so if they lay out cash on a certain product they would probably just have to replace it in two years. They have had real trouble with finding a way to spend this £250,000 climate change budget and I do not think they have thought this through."
On Tuesday, The Sun newspaper had described the council as "barmy" claiming Apple's iPad would cost between £499.99 and £699.99 depending on specs, however UK pricing is yet to be announced.
The Conservative-linked Taxpayers' Alliance, claiming to represent ordinary taxpayers, suggested the council would be best to invest in small, affordable laptops instead. "It is understandable that the council want to avoid wasting paper, but it is incredible that they think that means providing councillors with flash new Apple iPads at a cost of thousands," Matthew Sinclair, Research Director at the TaxPayers' Alliance said.
"Environmentalism shouldn't be used an excuse for extravagant spending, if councillors want an iPad they can join the queue and buy one themselves."
In the UK, the Wi-fi version of Apple's iPad ships in late March, with the 3G models shipping in April.