Monday, 11 November 2013

Councillor Downloads Money Saving Challenge For Members

A leading district councillor has challenged other members to embrace modern technology in a bid to save taxpayers at least £34,000 within 12 months.

Cllr David Whiteman-Downes, who is responsible for corporate and customer services at South Cambridgeshire District Council is recommending councillors purchase their own iPads to replace out of date Council laptops after he test drove software which allows easy and secure access to emails, agendas, meetings and more at the touch of a button.

Software on member-owned iPads will also mean reports and documents can be created, highlighted and annotated on the device so paper agendas – which currently cost over £2,000 each year to print and post – would no longer be necessary for councillors.

One of the reasons the proposed move has been put forward at this time is the software on existing laptops provided to councillors becomes obsolete in April, and an outlay of £41,000 would be needed to replace most laptops and update the operating systems.

A report published today will be discussed by councillors at a Cabinet meeting next Tuesday (19 November).

If plans are approved, councillors who decide to make the switch will be given the choice of using their own tablet and the secure software will be installed on it for them, or for an iPad to be purchased by the Council on their behalf, the cost of which would be repaid through their allowance.

The Council is recommending iPads to councillors as the tablet has the best functionality for business users, it costs a fraction of the price to set up when compared to laptops and some other devices, and the on-going maintenance costs are also far lower.

Following the first year the annual savings of the move could be around £3,000.

Cllr David Whiteman-Downes, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for corporate and customer services, said: “The new system I have tested on my own iPad is simply fantastic and will give councillors the option to ditch paper agendas which regularly exceed 100 pages. We live in a digital age and by harnessing technology we can improve secure access to information for councillors and at the same time save thousands of pounds for our taxpayers.

“At a time when our budget is under incredible pressure it is only right for councillors to be asked to either use their own iPad or pay for their own device from their allowance. This will make sure vital funds are not diverted away from providing high quality front line services.”

Many of the laptops supplied to councillors are at least six years old and any member choosing to continue to use it after the end of March would be responsible for maintaining it.

If councillors approve plans next week the new system could begin to be introduced from January and members of the Council’s Scrutiny and Overview Committee will help make sure the transition is as smooth as possible.

The reports to be presented to the Cabinet meeting can be found by visiting http://scambs.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=6208&x=1