Paper out... iPads in

Councillor Ian Campbell, Vice Chairman of the IT & Access Sub-Committee at Bassetlaw District Council

Councillor Ian Campbell, Vice Chairman of the IT & Access Sub-Committee at Bassetlaw District Council

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BASSETLAW Council is hopeful of saving up to £70,000 by replacing meeting papers with iPads.

The authority will trial ten of the high-tech gadgets, which retail around £500, for five months with a view to every councillor owning one by 2014.

The council prints and posts over 230,000 pages of committee papers to its 48 members each year.

Vice chairman of Bassetlaw Council’s IT and Access Sub-Committee Ian Campbell said the costs were also a ‘waste of paper’.

“When I came on to the council, I knew all councillors were bombarded with paper,” he said.

“I looked into it to see if it would save the council money and we formed a working group. It turned out it would.”

“I have been using them since June and find it incredibly useful.”

“By trialing tablet computers we are looking to save not only costs and trees but to change mind-set’s and promote a smarter way of working.”

“Our meetings will be paperless with all agendas, minutes and presentations viewed electronically.”

The switch will mean an end to paper, envelopes, printing and postage costs, which are expected to cost the council close to £100,000 over the next three years.

It will also eliminate the cost of replacing laptops and printers, which has been estimated at £14,600.

Coun Campbell said a deal with T-Mobile was likely: “We won’t be stuck with the same technology, in five years we might have to change them and this will be the cheapest way of doing it.”

“I really hope it works here and other councils follow suit.”

A total of 60 iPads with cases, software and support will cost the council £43,340 – £722.33 per iPad.

He said he understood why some people would see the computers as an ‘unnecessary expense’ but vowed the figures would speak for themselves.

“I can see people’s concerns, people asking ‘do we need one’, but I will always come back to the savings.”

“Security is a big aspect. You can lose a piece of paper but we will be able to find my iPad on a map from the central computer, send it a loud message, even wipe the data from it if need-be.”

“It’s not a toy, they will use it for work and it will be managed. Councillors will not be able to play Angry Birds,” he added.

The topic raised quite the discussion on the Guardian’s Facebook page. Maxine Buttery said: “Yes I think it’s worth it. Over the life span of an iPad, lots of trees will be saved which is obviously better for the environment, and it will also eventually save money, by not having to buy pads of paper that once used will be disposed of, at least with an iPad it’s reusable!”

“And they can also use the iPad to gain information about things and research in to what the meeting is about.”

But Dave Storey posted: “What about the additional cost of keep charging them over the next three years, using electricity paid for by us (the taxpayer) also, they keep banging on about co2 emissions and charging us more every year for running cars but they don’t speak about this when its something they want.”

“I think they should put their hands in their own pockets if they really want them.”