iPads are to be issued to most Craven district councillors from next month.

Tailored training for councillors will start early next month with the council ‘going live’ on March 31.

Approval to buy 35 tablet computers at a total cost of around £11,500, plus an annual fee of £1,483, was given by the policy committee.

Councillors have already been given tutorials on the importance of data protection and were told that customised training would be offered.

All those receiving e-mail correspondence from the council will be issued with an iPad with a council e-mail address. The iPads will remain the property of the council and will be adapted for council use only.

Coun Carl Lis (Cons) told the meeting that the most important issue was that the council complied with data protection laws and did not open itself up to potential fines of many thousands of pounds.

He said there was also an issue of the council complying with the Public Services Network in order to continue to provide its revenue and benefits service. “My main concern is compliance and this will achieve this,” he said.

Coun Paul English (LIb Dem) said although some might think the council was issuing its members with ‘toys’, the iPads should be considered as nothing more than an efficient tool to do the job. They would do away with paper agendas and save £5,000 per year in printing and other costs.

He added careful consideration needed to be given to the restrictions put on the tablets as increasingly residents were contacting their councillors on social networking sites.

Councillors who do not wish to use an iPad will have to agree to sign up as a data controller and will continue to receive paper agendas.

Coun John Roberts (Cons), chairman of the select committee, which has debated data protection and iPads over four separate meetings, said it was true to say not all councillors were convinced of the need for tablets. But he said the ‘‘frightening” implications of the council not complying with data protection gave the council no choice.