THE huge scale of public opposition to the purchase of iPads for Scarborough’s 50 councillors has been revealed in a poll.
The purchase of the smart new Apple iPad devices is due to be decided on Friday.
But a survey on the Evening News website asking whether people were for or against the idea produced more than 67,000 responses – with 99.9 per cent against the idea, and 44 responses in favour.
Two councillors have also broken rank – and said that the members should buy their own.
Councillors already have full computer systems provided for them at public expense. But council chiefs say they can save £10,000 a year by avoiding having to print and post weighty agendas.
Cllr Janet Jefferson, who represents residents in the Castle ward, said she felt it was the wrong move. “I use my own computer, not the council’s,” she said. “If we need iPads I will buy my own.
“I would query the expense of these because of the economic climate.”
And Cllr Nick Brown, who represents residents living in the Ramshill ward, said when he first heard of the proposal he also felt strongly that if iPads were needed then councillors should buy their own.
He bought a cheaper Motorola model which he has found useful at meetings. He added: “I think there are more important things to be talking about than Ipads.
“I understand that people get angry because they hear us saying we’ve got to save money then with the next breath they hear that we are spending X on iPads for councillors.”
He added: “I think people who pay their council tax should be made more aware of what’s happening.”
Ipads cost about £400 but it is understood that the council would get them for less because they would need to buy so many.
The proposal has attracted about many comments from website bloggers, including one from someone known as ‘Baznpat’ who said: “If these freeloaders want iPads then go and buy them and save even more money.”
‘Sportinglife’ wondered what was wrong with simply using pen and paper.
‘Wigbert’ said: “iPads are a desirable toy not a business tool. The headline £10,000 saving is a joke. What is wrong with the laptops, which have a real keyboard, that they already have? Save even more money by using what you already have.”
‘Atilla the Hun’ said: “I have an iPad, and it is a great toy and multi-media device. I also have a laptop which cost half as much which I use for anything work related.
“I cannot think of any reason why I would want an iPad for use in my work unless it was to show people how extravagant I can be.”
‘Fair Deal For Filey’ said: “Many of them would not know an iPad from a brillo pad. They all have laptops, provided at taxpayers’ expense, broadband access at taxpayers’ expense, which is quite adequate for the simple functions councillors would need to perform, such as storing files, reading files and amending documents.”
He added: “In fact, the screen on an iPad is too small for this sort of work and its keyboard is non-existant, with fiddly on-screen buttons.
“Scarborough Council would be faced with a raft of claims for deteriorating eyesight and repetitive strain injury. iPads are for playing games primarily.”
‘Bluebird One’ said that council taxpayers should not be asked to fund the move and added: “Who do these people think they are ... We are in austerity measures up and down the land.”
‘Scarboroughman’ added: “All the council needs to do is look at ways to utilise the laptops more effectively. Instead of postage use email – after all they all have an email address provided by the council.”
According minutes from last month’s cabinet meeting, minutes the cost of the paper was low but the postage generated at total annual cost of around £10,000.
A review had been carried out and a small computer tablet device about the size of a computer mouse mat was considered to be the best way to offer the same “functionality” of paper.
The report from the Independent Remuneration Panel proposed that “the present provision of paper and computers be replaced by the one device” because it would reduce costs to a very reasonable level which would produce savings for the council.
It is understood that if the move is approved then all paper and laptops could be replaced by the one device within a year.
Friday’s council meeting is open to the public and is due to start at the Town Hall from 2pm.