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UKIP wades into the debate over councillors' high-tech equipment
THE debate over whether councillors should all be equipped with the latest hi-tech gadgets to help them in their work has attracted criticism from UKIP.
Merseyside MEP Paul Nuttall described giving all 48 councillors iPads and iPhones as an “extravagance too far” which will “only seek to drive a wedge between councillors and the residents they are supposed to represent”.
The Star revealed earlier this month that the council issued the equipment in a move towards a “paperless” working environment.
Councillors are using iPads and iPhones to contact constituents through social media and browse through council agendas and minutes during meetings instead of ploughing through reams of paper documents.
St Helens Council has not revealed the costs of buying the devices or any associated monthly charges, but town hall sources insist it will save money in the long term by reducing print and mail costs.
However, Nuttall said: “I do not accept in the slightest that these expensive gadgets will be good value for money for those struggling to pay their council tax. The council should not be in the business of ensuring its members have the most sought after gadgets on the market especially when there are so many cheaper alternatives out there.
“If a councillor wants to stay in touch with their constituents via Twitter, Facebook and email a bog standard £50 - £100 smart phone at the councillor’s own expense would have been sufficient.”
The Star has also received complaints from readers who say that the move is unjustified with many saying that after crying poverty the council could have used the money elsewhere. Councillors were using the devices at meetings the Star attended this week. However, not all of them have received the equipment yet.