Craven district councillors could get iPads at £325 a time

Craven Herald: Councillor Carl Lis has been trailling an iPad Councillor Carl Lis has been trailling an iPad

Craven district councillors could be given iPads after the idea won the backing of scrutiny members.

A strong endorsement by the council's finance head, together with an opt-out option for existing councillors, convinced the majority of select committee members last week.

If approved by the decision-making policy committee next month, all councillors currently receiving emails from the council will be provided with an iPad worth around £325.

The tablets will be adapted for council use only and remain the property of the council.

Chief finance officer Joanna Miller said the council had no option but to comply with government-imposed data-protection laws.

She said the risk of potential fines of up to £500,000 for the council and £5,000 for individual members and the resulting reputational damage to the council were more important than any potential savings of doing away with paper agendas.

“The status quo is not an option. We need to make sure we are compliant so we don’t compromise any of our services such as benefits and elections,” she said.

She said there was money available and a slimmed- down council needed to operate more efficiently.

The committee was meeting for the fourth time to discuss data protection, the Government’s Public Services Network and the urgent need for the council to have a secure means of communication.

Councillors were reminded the council had already received a warning from the Information Commissioners Office following the loss of an unencrypted laptop from Craven Pool.

Coun Carl Lis (Cons), who has been trialling an iPad, said he would not like to be part of a committee that had not seen the urgency of the situation.

“I am almost glad that I am not a member of the select committee because if in the next week we got a fine, it will be down to this committee,” he said.

But not all councillors were persuaded, with some pointing out there were members who did not even use email and would need a lot of training.

Coun Andy Solloway (Ind) said he embraced new technology but pointed out central government had given local authorities no choice but to invest in new equipment, while at the same time slashing their budgets.

And Coun John Kerwin-Davey (Ind) said he did not believe what he was being told, accused the IT department of being biased and said he would like to hear a contrary expert opinion.

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