Leicester City Council has denied widespread reports that it plans to buy an iPad for each of its 54 councillors, claiming instead that it will be a decision made solely by the councillors themselves from existing budgets.
The reports had claimed that the council was going to spend over £40,000 to buy the devices, which raised eyebrows owing to the huge cutbacks facing the public sector.
However, a spokesperson for the council told V3.co.uk that no new money would be spent on any iPads, and added that any purchases would be an individual choice for the councillor from their existing budget.
Each council member gets a maximum allowance of £1,606 for the first full year following an election to buy items that will help them carry out their duties, and a further £801 each year after that.
"So far, four councillors are trialling the use of the devices to see if they can provide benefits and cost savings, and they have bought these devices from their own allowances that they get for items they need to do their job," the spokesperson said.
"After the trial the council will review the findings and make suggestions to others about whether they should consider the technology as beneficial to them. But they certainly won't just buy 54 devices for everyone."
The spokesperson added that, with so many documents printed and posted to councillors, the iPad offers a significant opportunity to reduce costs, but reiterated that some councillors may stay with the old system, or prefer a laptop.
The Tax Payers' Alliance had branded the reported move "insulting", coming at a time when many councils are being forced to make huge cuts, and jobs are on the line.
"It's a lot of money to be spent at a time when jobs are threatened and pay freezes are in place. We would question the need to buy the latest, top-of-the-range piece of kit when something like a basic laptop would do the job just as well," the organisation said.
However, Ross Grant, one of the four councillors to start using an iPad, defended the purchase in a blog post, and explained the benefits that it offered over a laptop.
"[It's] extremely mobile, always on (no boot time), always connected, great selection of apps either cheap or better free, stable and format ideal for meetings," he said.
"Many people have said 'use a laptop'. I don't think that works in some situations or at all in others. I have tried using a laptop to type whilst talking to the public. It doesn't work particularly well, the screen works as a barrier and [people] don't like it."
On his Twitter page, Grant reiterated the council's statement that there is no intention to buy 54 iPads.
"We get an allowance to buy items/services to support our work as councillors. I have got an iPad. So have a few others. No plan for 54!" he wrote.
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