Wrexham councillors agree to buy iPads 'to cut costs'
Wrexham councillors have agreed to buy themselves new iPads which officials say will save thousands of pounds.
The 52 members' council laptops are six years old and IT officials say replacing them like-for-like would cost £36,400.
However, buying iPads at £450 each, with IT support, will cost £23,400.
But the TaxPayers' Alliance pressure group has questioned the need for a "premium product" when alternatives are available.
However, the council said several devices from other manufacturers were tried and tested for compatibility and reliability before the model was recommended.
End Quote Robert Oxley TaxPayers' Alliance
...there are cheaper alternatives that would still only make sense if councillors abandoned paper entirely”
The council's democratic services committee agreed on Wednesday to approve iPads as the "default standard" as it "gives the most efficiency savings", along with other options available to councillors, including buying smaller laptops.
A report to the committee said officials expect to see a drop in the £36,000 annual bill to print agendas as they can be viewed on the tablet.
TaxPayers' Alliance campaign manager Robert Oxley said: "Cash-strapped councils need to cut down on bureaucracy and excessive paperwork but that doesn't justify handing every local politician a flash new iPad.
"These devices are a premium product; there are cheaper alternatives that would still only make sense if councillors abandoned paper entirely.'Efficiency savings'
"Councils using tablets as a cost-saving measure will need to clearly demonstrate how they are using them, and going to use them to save money."
The report said the authority also planned to stop funding £4,320 in broadband charges for some councillors' business-related internet access.
They said it was now cheaper for members to make provision for their own household's internet use.
The report said other local authorities in Wales have changed to tablet devices when renewing technology like Denbighshire and Flintshire councils.
Seven Wrexham councillors took part in a two-month pilot this summer to test them.
The report said they gave positive feedback, using them at home and during council meetings for accessing committee agendas and minutes and associated documents as well as for emails, using wireless internet access.