The London Borough of Havering is joining in with a vengence in the requirement to implement cutbacks. So far the budget has been cut by £19 million and the council is making 300 staff redundant.
In fact the council is so pleased with itself that it feels a need to reward the stalwart councillors …. by offering them each a shiny new iPad.
Needless to say, the local population is not impressed. Figures obtained under the freedom of information act show that so far they have purchased 17 of these nice little toys and could be buying as many as 57.
Council leader Cllr Michael White insists investment in the Apple gadgets will bring long-term reductions in paper, printing and travelling costs, and in other “unquantifiable” areas. Hmmm… ‘unquantifiable’? Call me old fashioned, but what happened to the good old days of cost justifaction and viability studies and rates of return on investment and…….
But I digress!
The estimable councillor White went on “Councillors spend around £200,000 in printing and paper a year; these iPads will save tens of thousands. It also increases efficiency, as we can do things like view Google maps rather than visiting sites, saving money in transport and staff time – although these costs are unquantifiable.” Hmmm… that word again!
So you would expect the opposition to make much political capital of this, but no. Leader of the opposition Cllr Clarence Barrett said: “The money comes out of the £600 IT allowance members are allocated for their [four-year] term, so I don’t see a problem with councillors using it as they see fit.” Well, you might not see a problem, but that’s probably because you’re busy playing with your iPad?
Anyway, it seems that the council got a great deal. The normal cost of an iPad is around £500-600 but councillor White says that he managed to do a deal on old models at £150. At least that’s what he said in the press, but on the ITV 6 o’clock news on 13th June the cost seemed to have risen to £500. Perhaps we didn’t realise that what he meant to say isn’t what we think we heard? So which is it, Councillor?
Apparenty, they are great for playing Tetris while waiting for work to arrive…