Plans to withdraw council funded laptops for South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) members were agreed recently in a move that will save taxpayers at least £34,000 within 12 months.
The timing of the move is because software on existing laptops provided to councillors becomes obsolete in April, and an outlay of £41,000 would be needed to replace most laptops and update the operating systems.
The plans agreed by cabinet on November 19 will see laptops replaced with tablet computers – but councillors will either supply their own device or fund the purchase from a deduction in their allowance.
Secure and easy to use software on member-owned tablets will also mean reports and documents can be created, highlighted and annotated on the device so paper agendas – which currently cost over £2,000 each year to print and post – would no longer be necessary for councillors.
SCDC is recommending iPads to councillors as the tablet has the best functionality for business users, it costs a fraction of the price to set up when compared to laptops and some other devices, and the on-going maintenance costs are also far lower.
Following the first year the annual savings of the move could be around £3,000.
Cllr David Whiteman-Downes, SCDC cabinet member for corporate and customer services, said: “The fact is that in April we would have needed to invest over £40,000 in updating laptops and the software on machines as it becomes obsolete.
“To save taxpayers money councillors will now be asked to fund their own computers which will mean money is not diverted away from providing front line services.”
Many of the laptops supplied to councillors are at least six years old and any member choosing to continue to use it after the end of March will be responsible for maintaining it.
At the meeting cabinet it was also confirmed that members of the Council’s scrutiny and overview committee will help make sure the transition is as smooth as possible.
For all the latest news see tomorrow’s (Boxing Day, Thursday, December 26) Echo.