Thursday, 2 February 2017

Wrexham Council's leader challenged to "come clean" by Plaid Cymru on iPads fiasco

Last year the council's executive board decided to spend £32,000 on 55 new upgraded iPads for the 52 councillors. These would replace the existing iPads the councillors currently use.

Plaid Cymru candidates in the forthcoming May elections have pledged, if elected, not to take the free upgrades. If necessary, they will pay for the upgrades themselves because the council is facing budget cuts.

Now the Wrexham public will have a chance to give their verdict in an "iPad referendum" in the town centre on Saturday, February 25th.

Plaid Cymru spokesperson Carrie Harper said:
"The council is digging its heels in on this matter so let's see what the people think. We'll be on Queen Square from 11am on Saturday, February 25th, asking people to vote on how they'd rather spend the £32,000. Everyone, including councillors, are welcome to come down and have their say - especially in light of new information we've obtained on the new iPads and how much money they'll actually save."

In December council leader Mark Pritchard claimed “the iPads have worked very well for current councillors and have helped us save at least £110k in the printing, posting, landfill waste etc., of the many reports and documents received by councillors."

Carrie Harper said:

"As a result of that claim, we put in a request for more information from the council.

"The Freedom of Information request reveals that the council is still spending about £15,000 a year on producing paper copies of reports, agendas and other information for councillors, the press and the public - £7566 in the last six months alone.

"In addition, the FOI reveals that - contrary to Cllr Pritchard's assertion that it was saving money on landfill waste - the council's paper does not go to landfill. It is recycled and does not cost the council any money.
"To my knowledge, agendas have not been posted for many years but are placed in councillors' pigeonholes in the Guildhall. There are no postage savings.
"So can he provide a breakdown of the £110,000 he says the council has saved by buying iPads in 2012?"

Ms Harper said the council also had to explain how much was really being saved given that councillors had laptops issued before the iPads and, as a result, had electronic access to papers and e-mails.

She added:
"At a time when the council is claiming it has no money for key services such as keeping day care centres open for the elderly, young people's services and funding for Citizens' Advice, then it's important that we look very closely at all council spending. 
"That's particularly the case for councillors, who have been spared the cuts that other services and other council employees have faced. Why should they be exempt from scrutiny and the same cuts as everyone else?"
• Watch this video to explain the situation

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