Councillors hail iPads one year on from vote

Councillor's Ipads - one year on
Councillor's Ipads - one year on
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Rewind 12 months, and Scarborough Council made global headlines after councillors controversially backed plans to buy themselves hi-tech iPads.

The cash-strapped authority was widely lampooned for the move, even by some of its own councillors, which it claimed would save the council around £10,000 annually.

However, one year later, councillors have widely praised the introduction of the kit as a “wise decision”.

And figures disclosed by the authority show that by the end of March 2014, Scarborough Council expects to make savings totalling £92,860 with the iPads.

Councillor Nick Brown was one of the members who had initial reservations about the iPads.

Although he believed the authority would benefit from them, he felt the taxpayer shouldn’t have footed the bill, and even donated the equivalent cost of his tablet to two charities.

“They’ve cut down on paperwork an enormous amount - they’ve made us more efficient,’ said Cllr Brown.“I said at the time that they are a good idea and will work well.”

His comments were echoed by fellow councillor Geoffrey Evans, who said: “I think they are very, very good - they are a brilliant tool.

“I think it was a wise decision to bring them in, and to move away from paper.

“I know it was very controversial at the time, but I think the risk has paid off.”

Controversy surrounded the introduction of the iPads, with the electorate almost universally panning the idea ahead of the vote at the end of February last year.

Over 67,000 votes were cast in a Scarborough Evening News poll before the vote, with 99 per cent of voters opposing the plans.

However, Scarborough Council voted to introduce them in a heated meeting last February - and against a level of public backlash unlike anything seen in recent years.

There had been concerns with the tablets that several councillors, in particular the older members, would struggle to adapt to the new technology.

Concerns were also aired that the already hard-up council would have to spend a considerable sum training councillors to use their kit.

However, Scarborough Council say other than lessons administered by the authority;s officers, there has been no additional cost to the tax payer.

But despite this, Cllr Brown added: “Some councillors have to learn to use them properly and there are some councillors struggling to get to grips with the technology, although I’m sure that they will.”

Since the council introduced the iPads, other authorities have expressed an interest in following suit, with interest in replicating the model coming from as far away as New Zealand.

Even Westminister has shown an interest in mimicking the idea.

At a recent Scarborough Council Audit Committee Meeting, Strategic Director Hilary Jones described the introduction of the tablets as a “good news story”.

She added that the project was part of the new ways of working and was a culture change, removing paper agenda and laptops and replacing them with tablets, and that savings had been identified “up front”.