'Cash Strapped' Council Criticised Over IT Spend

Opposition leaders at Dudley Council have hit out at the cash-strapped authority for paying ‘extortionate costs’ to fund councillors’ IT equipment.

Councillor Paul Brothwood, leader of the UKIP group in Dudley, is calling for an ‘immediate review’ of Dudley Council’s spending of almost £50,000.

Devices such as iPads, smartphones and a digital camera are bought for councillors using the money; alongside home broadband and mobile SIM cards.

The Labour-run council says it is ‘essential’ for councillors to have ‘swift access to communication channels’ in this digital age.

But Councillor Brothwood said: “At a time when we are making difficult decisions as to what services need to be cut, we see that certain councillors have been getting home broadband, smart phones, iPads, and even a digital camera. This is just not acceptable and each councillor should hand them back.

“The purchase costs for this equipment now stands at over £32,000 and on-going annual charges run into £16,000 per year. Some of these costs are unavoidable but many could be scrapped.

“I have said for a long time that despite the cuts to services there is still significant savings to be found. The honourable thing to do is for councillors to reject such expensive equipment.”

The figures were revealed by the council’s ICT Services.

The devices – consisting of 26 laptops, eight tablet computers, 15 iPads, 37 printers, nine smartphones and one digital camera – cost a total of £32,336.49.

Ongoing IT charges – which consisted of 22 ‘3G’ mobile internet packages, two mobile phone SIM cards, six home broadband packages and 72 Office 365 subscriptions – cost £16,524.

Councillor John Martin, cabinet member for transformation and performance said: “As a community council it is essential that residents are able to get in touch with their councillor when they need them, which is why the council offers appropriate IT equipment to elected members.


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