All Leicester city councillors to get iPads next year?

Darren Allan

August 3, 2010

Leicester city council is planning on equipping its councillors with iPads next year, according to a report in the Telegraph.

The paper suggests that the plan is to get the top-end 64GB 3G model, which costs £699, for all 54 councillors, meaning a cost to the council of around £38,000.

Oddly enough, coming at a time of austerity measures under the coalition government’s new rule, this hasn’t gone down so well in some quarters.

The councillors, several of whom are already trialling the use of Apple’s tablet, argue that the iPad will save money. Potentially £90,000 per year, they claim, will be saved on printing expenses if the slates are used to distribute documents in meetings instead.

Yet the same amount could be saved by using a cheap netbook, surely, without such a large outlay. Indeed, even if the iPad route is chosen, is it really necessary to get the top of the line model with 64GB of memory?

A senior councillor told the Telegraph: “As soon as we all heard that three councillors were getting iPads everyone started asking for one. I suppose it’ll be handy to have, but the expense is a little bit awkward at a time of cuts.”

Yes; as soon as they heard about the iPads, every councillor was positively salivating at the potential ability to be able to avoid having to print stuff out for meetings and suchlike. And certainly not at the prospect of getting hold of a free technological toy.


Comments in chronological order (4 comments)

  1. Andy P says:

    “soon as they heard about the iPads, every councillor was positively salivating at the potential ability to be able to avoid having to print stuff out for meetings and suchlike”
    You’ve just hit the nail smack on the head right there.

  2. Jason says:

    I live in the Leicestershire borough, this is a total joke and another example of how LCC waste money which could be better spent. if they want to spend nearly £40K on hardware buy a computer for each school in the area, (which desperately need new computers) and still have money left over!

    And if the argument is that they will save paper for meetings etc, what is wrong with a multitasking laptop, which can be purchased at half of the cost and have double the power.

    Plus the Ipdis flawed, nice to look at but its not multi tasking and very difficult to use to type or operate. I don’t mean the interface as it looks very good and is very swish. If you don’t believe me go and try one, I don’t mean flicking pictures around the screen or messing around with hobby apps. Try to use say a spreadsheet or word document and you will see what I mean.


  3. Andy P says:

    Toys for the boys

  4. Cheese says:

    I used to work for Leicester City Council and can confirm that there is a culture of wastefulness when it comes to IT. This is not just the Councillors but also upper-management and in fact entire departments.
    Leicester City Council’s IT projects and initiatives are rarely thought through fully but they always ensure that the project brief has always got a money-saving benefit written into it. This is usually a figure that is based on largely unsubstantiated facts (and avoiding others) seemingly there to demonstrate a ‘benefit’ that is required to get the project green lighted. This of course also provides cover against anyone enquiring into why the project was undertaken, a la iPads.
    Many of LCC’s IT projects fail to deliver all the benefits that they set out to achieve and others are complete failures that become a money pit that is dragged along like a dead dog for years. Some even end up being written off entirely and then more money is allocated into starting all over again with the mantra of using the ‘lessons learned’.
    Back to the iPads, the supposed ‘saving of money’ is really just a smoke screen to try to dodge criticism over their actions. Councillors have always wanted (and often got) whatever is the latest buzz gadget so they can swan around showing them off without a real concern as to the cost that it puts on the taxpayer.
    LCC has trialled tablet PCs in the past from the likes of Dell and HP but there was never a scramble by Councillors to have one before and you could easily argue that since LCC is predominately Windows based (with some Novell on top) that the performance, integration and usefulness of those devices would far outstrip what can be achieved with the non-standard iPad.
    In my experience LCC have always ignored the fact that adopting technologies that are outside of their current scope of expertise increases costs. It results in an extra burden on the IT department which means a rise in costs through the extra staff required (or the deflection of staff from their existing core duties) and the training required to support the devices properly.
    Also worth noting is the fact that the IT department is told to always ‘jump’ when a call comes in from a Councillor requiring support. Meaning that a disproportionate amount of time is spent supporting them compared to other users in order to prevent a Councillor getting stroppy with the Head of IT and increasing the perceived threat of outsourcing the IT function, it was a genuine fear when I was there.
    Looking at the cost saving, all evidence points to the fact that the printing of documents has risen since IT became mainstream and I don’t see how that will change with the latest iPad – people like to read from paper. Of all the meetings I attended I rarely saw anyone with a laptop or similar device, mostly it was the case that the meeting initiator would turn up with several printed copies of each document and hand them out to every attendee.
    In the end maybe a small saving will be made from the ones that make an effort to be paper free but when you add it all together it is obvious that the supposed £90,000 saving is a complete fallacy as any saving that is actually made in reduced paper consumption will be quickly wiped out by increased costs elsewhere.

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