'No extra spending on councillors'
Plaid Cymru candidates in next May's local elections have pledged not to accept Wrexham council iPads at a cost of £583 apiece if elected.
The pledge comes as the council debates whether to buy a package of 55 new iPads for its 52 councillors - three would be "spares" at a total cost of £32,080.
Plaid Cymru's Wrexham chairperson Marc Jones said:
"Wrexham Council is facing further cuts in the next budget round. It is totally inappropriate for councillors to spend on themselves in this way while cutting frontline services such as youth provision. "We're also very aware that there are other issues - such as councils' contributions towards the fire service - that impact hugely on the local community. These are our priorities."
Plaid Cymru has already selected candidates for a third of Wrexham's council wards and last night decided any elected councillors would not take the new iPads. Marc Jones said:
"It's important that councillors have access to information and council papers via the internet. But most people now have their own tablets or laptops they can use at home and in the council chamber. With that in mind, and ongoing financial constraints, it makes no sense to spend extra on duplication like this. If elected our group of councillors will not waste public money on iPads."Mr Jones added that Plaid Cymru has consistently argued that council finances should be prioritised for frontline services in times of austerity:
"Three years ago we argued that the council mayor should be scrapped - it's cost £400,000 over three years. We also criticised the increase in senior allowances, which means the council leader is on £47,000 and executive board members are on £29,000 a year. These increases also amounted to £100,000 a year.
"When council workers are being made redundant or facing pay freezes, there can be no justification for paying more to councillors."
UPDATE: Council leader Mark Pritchard has responded with a typical attack on the above pledge - misleading and ignoring the main thrust of the story: