Leicester to spend £38,000 on iPads

Leicester City Council is planning to provide 54 councillors with iPads after elections next May, apparently in a bid to cut costs.

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Leicester City Council is planning to provide 54 councillors with Apple iPads after elections next May, apparently in a bid to cut costs.

The iPads, which cost up to £699 each for 64GB model with Wi-Fi and 3G, will be trialled by four councillors.

The council hopes that the iPads will help reduce the costs of paper and printing – by around £90,000 a year.

Leicester’s plans were revealed just days after it said that it would have to reduce this year’s budget by £7.7 million, and find £100 million in savings by 2015. This means that one in seven, or around 1,000 jobs are at risk.

Labour councillor Sarah Russell, who is waiting for her iPad, said in The Telegraph: “We’re trying out the iPad to see whether it improves the way we work as councillors.

“If it does, and it can replace costly printing, then the council could potentially save £90,000 each year. I have a laptop but it is quite heavy, meaning it is awkward to take to several meetings in a day.

“It also has to be charged much more regularly than an iPad.”

Conservative councillor Ross Grant said that his trial iPad, the 64GB model, made him “more productive”, claiming that if a constitutent stops him in the street, he can research the problem immediately from his iPad.

'Also when I'm in key meetings I've asked for council agendas to be e-mailed as PDF files to the iPad so I no longer need printed documents. This could save the council money in the long term,” said Grant.

So far, three councillors have received an iPad, which is being funded out of their support funds. Councillors receive support funds of £1,500 in the first year, and £750 in following years, which are meant to help councillors work by being used to pay for such things as a mobile phone, or internet access at home.

However, a senior councillor said: “As soon as we all heard that three councillors were getting iPads, everyone started asking for one.

“I suppose it’ll be handy to have, but the expense is a little bit awkward at a time of cuts.”

A spokeswoman for Leicester City Council told the Press Association: "The trial will be reviewed early next year against its potential to save money and help councillors respond more efficiently to the varied demands that their roles entail.

"We are fully aware of the pressures on public finances and if there are no efficiencies to be achieved, the trial will not go any further."

In February, Cambridge City Council was forced to deny plans it would invest up to £30,000 on 46 Apple iPads in a bid to enhance its green credentials, after media reports highlighted the proposals.

Meanwhile, the public sector appears to be embracing the iPad, with reports that UK troops training for Afghanistan operations are currently using a special app developed for the iPad to learn how to handle a fire mission.

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