Councils spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on smartphones and other gadgets for employees

CASH-STRAPPED councils in the region have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on gadgets for their employees and politicians, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Data released under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act show local authorities in the North-East and North Yorkshire have invested more than £600,000 on smartphones and tablet computers such as the sought-after Apple iPad.

That includes the initial purchase costs and ongoing expenditure such as bills and line rental.

More than 2,000 council staff have been given phones at their employer’s expense, with Durham County Council dishing out over 900 handsets to staff and 110 of its 126 councillors.

Earlier this year, Scarborough Borough Council was criticised for buying iPads for all of its 50 members. Now a clearer picture has emerged of what local authorities are spending on gadgets.

Our information indicates that more than 160 council officials in the region have been given iPads or similar tablet computers for work purposes, with dozens given to councillors – the vast majority in Scarborough.

The Northern Echo: Council expenditure on gadgets

More than 2,100 smart phones, bought with public money, are used by council officials, with almost 150 used by councillors.

While the spending uncovered by The Northern Echo amounts to just a fraction of councils’ budgets, it comes amid fears a fresh wave of austerity cutbacks is about to see millions of pounds wiped from key services such as elderly care.

Critics say local authorities splashing out on gadgets for staff and councillors calls into question their moral authority to oversee such cuts.

As the region’s largest councils, Durham and North Yorkshire have issued more phones to their personnel than most.

Durham’s expenditure on smartphones alone accounts for more than half of the spending uncovered by The Northern Echo.

In its response to the FoI request, the council said: “For many officers, especially those who may be called for out-of-hours work, such as emergency services, social workers and other first response professionals, such as streetscene, planners and highway services, the smart phones are an essential and vital part of our communications system.”

The extent of spending is probably greater, as some councils failed to respond to the FoI request in the statutory 28 days, while others argued that to provide the required information would be too much work to avoid incurring a fee.

Jonathan Isaby, political director of pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: “In order to have the moral authority to oversee necessary cuts in expenditure, councillors and council staff must ensure any spending on themselves is necessary and delivering taxpayer value for money.

Comments (40)

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10:18am Mon 5 Nov 12

oldgit57 says...

Total waste of public money! But does it surprise me that in this age of government cuts the senior management of councils are woefully incompetent and oblivious to saving money and cutting costs rather than services?
The answer is pretty obvious, NO!
Why am I not surprised? This is only the tip of the iceberg and until Chief Executives and Senior Management do their job, understand and monitor their costs and look for areas of savings this will continue. Instead they are hell bent on spending all there budget even if it is a completely wasteful expenditure and in a constant mode of building their positions and empires. The problem is Council chiefs take the big money but consistently fail to deliver and at the end of the day we the public pay yet again.

The phones may be the only smart thing about the Council Management.
Total waste of public money! But does it surprise me that in this age of government cuts the senior management of councils are woefully incompetent and oblivious to saving money and cutting costs rather than services? The answer is pretty obvious, NO! Why am I not surprised? This is only the tip of the iceberg and until Chief Executives and Senior Management do their job, understand and monitor their costs and look for areas of savings this will continue. Instead they are hell bent on spending all there budget even if it is a completely wasteful expenditure and in a constant mode of building their positions and empires. The problem is Council chiefs take the big money but consistently fail to deliver and at the end of the day we the public pay yet again. The phones may be the only smart thing about the Council Management. oldgit57

10:47am Mon 5 Nov 12

Hunty1 says...

Hilarious as some of them can't even be bothered to answer a phone when you need them!

Hey ho I expect Vodaphone or whoever the providers are will be happy...
Hilarious as some of them can't even be bothered to answer a phone when you need them! Hey ho I expect Vodaphone or whoever the providers are will be happy... Hunty1

10:53am Mon 5 Nov 12

neilt63 says...

Are we surprised? Of course not, just another example of mismanaged budgets. These councils should be more accountable, to us the people who elect them. If I were as incompitant as some of these guys, I would have been unemployed by now. Where is the justification for these budget cuts, Glenholme Centre being demolished, fortnightly refuse collections and us all having services removed, when public money is wasted on such items.
Are we surprised? Of course not, just another example of mismanaged budgets. These councils should be more accountable, to us the people who elect them. If I were as incompitant as some of these guys, I would have been unemployed by now. Where is the justification for these budget cuts, Glenholme Centre being demolished, fortnightly refuse collections and us all having services removed, when public money is wasted on such items. neilt63

10:55am Mon 5 Nov 12

neilt63 says...

Hunty1 wrote:
Hilarious as some of them can't even be bothered to answer a phone when you need them! Hey ho I expect Vodaphone or whoever the providers are will be happy...
Good point, If you can't get them to answer a desk phone, what chance have you with a mobile, that will display a number that they dont recognise.
[quote][p][bold]Hunty1[/bold] wrote: Hilarious as some of them can't even be bothered to answer a phone when you need them! Hey ho I expect Vodaphone or whoever the providers are will be happy...[/p][/quote]Good point, If you can't get them to answer a desk phone, what chance have you with a mobile, that will display a number that they dont recognise. neilt63

12:10pm Mon 5 Nov 12

55 says...

Disgraceful !!!!!!
Disgraceful !!!!!! 55

12:13pm Mon 5 Nov 12

Longbowman666 says...

So, smartphones are 'an essential part of our communications system' are they? So what did they all do before such things were about? Oh yes, they used pagers, which cost less and are much simpler, with operating costs to match.

But then, like one councillor I saw not so long ago in a council meeting, you can't text etc using one of those, can you?

Out of curiosity, who were the 110 councillors who got them, and what were the reasons for them getting them? They can't all be that important that their missing a call would be of such vital earth shattering consequence to the mad world of DCC, surely?
So, smartphones are 'an essential part of our communications system' are they? So what did they all do before such things were about? Oh yes, they used pagers, which cost less and are much simpler, with operating costs to match. But then, like one councillor I saw not so long ago in a council meeting, you can't text etc using one of those, can you? Out of curiosity, who were the 110 councillors who got them, and what were the reasons for them getting them? They can't all be that important that their missing a call would be of such vital earth shattering consequence to the mad world of DCC, surely? Longbowman666

12:29pm Mon 5 Nov 12

giggitty says...

Once again, more lazy pathetic journalisim. A sweeping one sided story that has no examination of the side of the coin. I'm not saying this story isnt true, but how do you know when you dont know the other side? (Enter left side of the stage - even more idiotic post like " becasue it is").

Why does the editor of the Echo allow this to continually happen? Please roport any act of mindless waste that i pay for - but be sure it is waste!
Once again, more lazy pathetic journalisim. A sweeping one sided story that has no examination of the side of the coin. I'm not saying this story isnt true, but how do you know when you dont know the other side? (Enter left side of the stage - even more idiotic post like " becasue it is"). Why does the editor of the Echo allow this to continually happen? Please roport any act of mindless waste that i pay for - but be sure it is waste! giggitty

1:27pm Mon 5 Nov 12

oliviaden6 says...

Councils no longer care about the people who gave them their jobs.
Councillors across the board just vote through anything thay please and spend and waste money willy nilly. after all it is not there money, These individuals are a bunch of wasters hipocrites and total waste of space, when will any council listen to the voters. Most councils around England now hide behind the Government rule that allows them to raise the council tax IF they keep it below 3.5% I believe this is terrible when a good majority of councils did not raise the rates in the last round of deals. My own council did this it is really quite shameful
Councils no longer care about the people who gave them their jobs. Councillors across the board just vote through anything thay please and spend and waste money willy nilly. after all it is not there money, These individuals are a bunch of wasters hipocrites and total waste of space, when will any council listen to the voters. Most councils around England now hide behind the Government rule that allows them to raise the council tax IF they keep it below 3.5% I believe this is terrible when a good majority of councils did not raise the rates in the last round of deals. My own council did this it is really quite shameful oliviaden6

1:44pm Mon 5 Nov 12

bingbong says...

At last, a sensible comment from someone gigitty.
.
To quote Longbowman666 "What did they all do before such things were about?" Really?! What did ANYONE do before mobiles, smartphones etc. were about? That's right, we managed, but times and technology move on. What did council staff do before computers and laptops were invented? I'm sure they managed just fine but would you suggest they go back to pens and paper?
.
As giggitty says, utterly one-sided and lazy journalism! Yet more "Daily Mail" headlines that seem to be all too common in the Northern Echo these days. Has the Northern Echo done an FOI request to ask how much money has been saved on paper and printing costs? Has the Northern Echo asked how much officer time is saved by not having to be permanently at a desk just so you've got access to a landline and your emails?
.
Everyone keeps banging on about more efficiencies etc. (which I'm all for!) but every time councils try, silly stories like this come out to fuel the fire. And before we hear the argument (again) about "they managed alright before", ask yourself this; if smartphones, tablets and IT generally didn't make things more efficient why do private companies spend billions a year on the things?!
.
My 11 year old niece has a "smartphone" and can access her e-mails from anywhere, as I'm sure can most of her friends! Yet people want to bleat and moan about the public sector trying to move into the 21st century.
At last, a sensible comment from someone gigitty. . To quote Longbowman666 "What did they all do before such things were about?" Really?! What did ANYONE do before mobiles, smartphones etc. were about? That's right, we managed, but times and technology move on. What did council staff do before computers and laptops were invented? I'm sure they managed just fine but would you suggest they go back to pens and paper? . As giggitty says, utterly one-sided and lazy journalism! Yet more "Daily Mail" headlines that seem to be all too common in the Northern Echo these days. Has the Northern Echo done an FOI request to ask how much money has been saved on paper and printing costs? Has the Northern Echo asked how much officer time is saved by not having to be permanently at a desk just so you've got access to a landline and your emails? . Everyone keeps banging on about more efficiencies etc. (which I'm all for!) but every time councils try, silly stories like this come out to fuel the fire. And before we hear the argument (again) about "they managed alright before", ask yourself this; if smartphones, tablets and IT generally didn't make things more efficient why do private companies spend billions a year on the things?! . My 11 year old niece has a "smartphone" and can access her e-mails from anywhere, as I'm sure can most of her friends! Yet people want to bleat and moan about the public sector trying to move into the 21st century. bingbong

2:40pm Mon 5 Nov 12

neilt63 says...

bingbong wrote:
At last, a sensible comment from someone gigitty. . To quote Longbowman666 "What did they all do before such things were about?" Really?! What did ANYONE do before mobiles, smartphones etc. were about? That's right, we managed, but times and technology move on. What did council staff do before computers and laptops were invented? I'm sure they managed just fine but would you suggest they go back to pens and paper? . As giggitty says, utterly one-sided and lazy journalism! Yet more "Daily Mail" headlines that seem to be all too common in the Northern Echo these days. Has the Northern Echo done an FOI request to ask how much money has been saved on paper and printing costs? Has the Northern Echo asked how much officer time is saved by not having to be permanently at a desk just so you've got access to a landline and your emails? . Everyone keeps banging on about more efficiencies etc. (which I'm all for!) but every time councils try, silly stories like this come out to fuel the fire. And before we hear the argument (again) about "they managed alright before", ask yourself this; if smartphones, tablets and IT generally didn't make things more efficient why do private companies spend billions a year on the things?! . My 11 year old niece has a "smartphone" and can access her e-mails from anywhere, as I'm sure can most of her friends! Yet people want to bleat and moan about the public sector trying to move into the 21st century.
Personally I'm not bleating or moaning about anyone trying to move into the 21st Century. I have a smart phone and a tablet computer, the point is I bought these myself.
Public sector companies are under more scrutiny now, due to budgets cuts, so this just highlights spending issues. Also don't councillors recieve an allowance ( one of the highest in the UK) which allows them the necessary equipment to fulfil their position?
I fail to see how it can be branded "lazy journalism" when its informative and in the public interest.
[quote][p][bold]bingbong[/bold] wrote: At last, a sensible comment from someone gigitty. . To quote Longbowman666 "What did they all do before such things were about?" Really?! What did ANYONE do before mobiles, smartphones etc. were about? That's right, we managed, but times and technology move on. What did council staff do before computers and laptops were invented? I'm sure they managed just fine but would you suggest they go back to pens and paper? . As giggitty says, utterly one-sided and lazy journalism! Yet more "Daily Mail" headlines that seem to be all too common in the Northern Echo these days. Has the Northern Echo done an FOI request to ask how much money has been saved on paper and printing costs? Has the Northern Echo asked how much officer time is saved by not having to be permanently at a desk just so you've got access to a landline and your emails? . Everyone keeps banging on about more efficiencies etc. (which I'm all for!) but every time councils try, silly stories like this come out to fuel the fire. And before we hear the argument (again) about "they managed alright before", ask yourself this; if smartphones, tablets and IT generally didn't make things more efficient why do private companies spend billions a year on the things?! . My 11 year old niece has a "smartphone" and can access her e-mails from anywhere, as I'm sure can most of her friends! Yet people want to bleat and moan about the public sector trying to move into the 21st century.[/p][/quote]Personally I'm not bleating or moaning about anyone trying to move into the 21st Century. I have a smart phone and a tablet computer, the point is I bought these myself. Public sector companies are under more scrutiny now, due to budgets cuts, so this just highlights spending issues. Also don't councillors recieve an allowance ( one of the highest in the UK) which allows them the necessary equipment to fulfil their position? I fail to see how it can be branded "lazy journalism" when its informative and in the public interest. neilt63

3:57pm Mon 5 Nov 12

loonyleft says...

where is d.d.coy this is his fav subject,he'll be upset with you riding on his bandwagon.
where is d.d.coy this is his fav subject,he'll be upset with you riding on his bandwagon. loonyleft

3:58pm Mon 5 Nov 12

loonyleft says...

where is d.d.coy this is his fav subject,he'll be upset with you riding on his bandwagon.
where is d.d.coy this is his fav subject,he'll be upset with you riding on his bandwagon. loonyleft

5:13pm Mon 5 Nov 12

Longbowman666 says...

Bingbong - Yes, technology moves forward - and as you might have noticed, the latest technology comes with a larger price tag! And, as is being pointed out, if an individual wishes to arm themselves with every geek gadget under the sun then that's their affair. However, for any Council to spend money on 'toys' for its 'boys' when on the other hand they are crying out about having to cut this and drop that because of having no money is frankly laughable - only the laugh is at the taxpayer's expense of course.

If it were the case that such items truly made the Council work more efficiently and things were done cheaper and more effectively then no problem - the expense is then warranted, for those people such as the likes of Social workers in urgent call out care teams for example. But, as I said, out of those 110 Councillors who were given these, how many held 'urgent' posts, where their presence would be required immediately, or where thir lack of presence would cause real problems? Not many I would suspect.

And, should you care to ask residents around your locality what they would prefer - their care home / community centre or whatever back or able to keep on running, or their Councillor to have a 'smartphone', I have a feeling I know what the answer would likely be...don't you?
Bingbong - Yes, technology moves forward - and as you might have noticed, the latest technology comes with a larger price tag! And, as is being pointed out, if an individual wishes to arm themselves with every geek gadget under the sun then that's their affair. However, for any Council to spend money on 'toys' for its 'boys' when on the other hand they are crying out about having to cut this and drop that because of having no money is frankly laughable - only the laugh is at the taxpayer's expense of course. If it were the case that such items truly made the Council work more efficiently and things were done cheaper and more effectively then no problem - the expense is then warranted, for those people such as the likes of Social workers in urgent call out care teams for example. But, as I said, out of those 110 Councillors who were given these, how many held 'urgent' posts, where their presence would be required immediately, or where thir lack of presence would cause real problems? Not many I would suspect. And, should you care to ask residents around your locality what they would prefer - their care home / community centre or whatever back or able to keep on running, or their Councillor to have a 'smartphone', I have a feeling I know what the answer would likely be...don't you? Longbowman666

6:25pm Mon 5 Nov 12

George BA says...

It would be a step forward if all Councillors got their agendas, minutes and reports for meetings via email etc.

But they don't the majority get them sent as a paper copy as well, total waste of time and paper.

Maybe all councils should be forced to send out all agendas, meetings, reports etc by email, imagine how much it could save, especially to the Unitary Authority and Town Councils such as Aycliffe, Ferryhill, Spennmoor and Shildon.
It would be a step forward if all Councillors got their agendas, minutes and reports for meetings via email etc. But they don't the majority get them sent as a paper copy as well, total waste of time and paper. Maybe all councils should be forced to send out all agendas, meetings, reports etc by email, imagine how much it could save, especially to the Unitary Authority and Town Councils such as Aycliffe, Ferryhill, Spennmoor and Shildon. George BA

6:39pm Mon 5 Nov 12

stevegg says...

Neilt63 and oliviaden6 are right. Well, its only public money after all! IF there is an inquiry the person(s) responsible can always be side shifted into another well paid made up job to avoid any disciplinary action. Thats the attitude that has prevailed for decades and still does even in times of austerity. They dont get it and dont care as by and large they are untouchable and are experts at avoiding any sort of prosecution! The waste and ineffeciency is staggering and no one is ever held to account.
Neilt63 and oliviaden6 are right. Well, its only public money after all! IF there is an inquiry the person(s) responsible can always be side shifted into another well paid made up job to avoid any disciplinary action. Thats the attitude that has prevailed for decades and still does even in times of austerity. They dont get it and dont care as by and large they are untouchable and are experts at avoiding any sort of prosecution! The waste and ineffeciency is staggering and no one is ever held to account. stevegg

6:44pm Mon 5 Nov 12

loan_star says...

What did they do before smart phones came around? Probably had to make do with landlines and normal computers. So despite these advances in technology and devices to make it easier for them to do their jobs, council tax still goes up??!!
What did they do before smart phones came around? Probably had to make do with landlines and normal computers. So despite these advances in technology and devices to make it easier for them to do their jobs, council tax still goes up??!! loan_star

6:50pm Mon 5 Nov 12

loonyleft says...

anyone want to buy a cheap smart phone.
anyone want to buy a cheap smart phone. loonyleft

6:50pm Mon 5 Nov 12

loonyleft says...

anyone want to buy a cheap smart phone.
anyone want to buy a cheap smart phone. loonyleft

7:22pm Mon 5 Nov 12

Lifetime Townie says...

We have been given the cost of the phones but what about all the lesssons that some of the councillors will need to explain what the phones can do and how to use them!
We have been given the cost of the phones but what about all the lesssons that some of the councillors will need to explain what the phones can do and how to use them! Lifetime Townie

7:29pm Mon 5 Nov 12

the-big-yin says...

neilt63 wrote:
Are we surprised? Of course not, just another example of mismanaged budgets. These councils should be more accountable, to us the people who elect them. If I were as incompitant as some of these guys, I would have been unemployed by now. Where is the justification for these budget cuts, Glenholme Centre being demolished, fortnightly refuse collections and us all having services removed, when public money is wasted on such items.
also what about all the workers who are now based at home working on the gadgets and free internet connection given to them by the councils.
why the hell do they not go into work like any normal run company employees?
all councils are wasting milions....stop it now....
[quote][p][bold]neilt63[/bold] wrote: Are we surprised? Of course not, just another example of mismanaged budgets. These councils should be more accountable, to us the people who elect them. If I were as incompitant as some of these guys, I would have been unemployed by now. Where is the justification for these budget cuts, Glenholme Centre being demolished, fortnightly refuse collections and us all having services removed, when public money is wasted on such items.[/p][/quote]also what about all the workers who are now based at home working on the gadgets and free internet connection given to them by the councils. why the hell do they not go into work like any normal run company employees? all councils are wasting milions....stop it now.... the-big-yin

7:34pm Mon 5 Nov 12

Idontknowaboutyoubut says...

This makes me furious.In the midst of all the austerity measures that are being inflicted on us all,with services being slashed,and benefits being cut back or removed entirely,in the name of "making savings"our self-serving councillors,and their servants,can find the money to waste on gadgets???
Something is very wrong in our County Halls.It stinks to high heaven!!!
This makes me furious.In the midst of all the austerity measures that are being inflicted on us all,with services being slashed,and benefits being cut back or removed entirely,in the name of "making savings"our self-serving councillors,and their servants,can find the money to waste on gadgets??? Something is very wrong in our County Halls.It stinks to high heaven!!! Idontknowaboutyoubut

8:00pm Mon 5 Nov 12

loonyleft says...

Big Yin, "why don't they go in to work like normal employees", it is very common place for people to work from home these days, it saves a lot of travelling time.
Big Yin, "why don't they go in to work like normal employees", it is very common place for people to work from home these days, it saves a lot of travelling time. loonyleft

8:45pm Mon 5 Nov 12

johnny_p says...

For anyone defending council spending here, I have to remind them that the money they are spending is PUBLIC, i.e. money that isn't theirs to do with as they wish.

I work for a successful PRIVATE company, who could (in theory) choose to buy whatever expensive gadgets they wish for their employees. But they don't funnily enough- I haven't got an iPhone from my company and nor have any of my colleagues.
For anyone defending council spending here, I have to remind them that the money they are spending is PUBLIC, i.e. money that isn't theirs to do with as they wish. I work for a successful PRIVATE company, who could (in theory) choose to buy whatever expensive gadgets they wish for their employees. But they don't funnily enough- I haven't got an iPhone from my company and nor have any of my colleagues. johnny_p

10:31pm Mon 5 Nov 12

bingbong says...

Longbowman666 wrote:
Bingbong - Yes, technology moves forward - and as you might have noticed, the latest technology comes with a larger price tag! And, as is being pointed out, if an individual wishes to arm themselves with every geek gadget under the sun then that's their affair. However, for any Council to spend money on 'toys' for its 'boys' when on the other hand they are crying out about having to cut this and drop that because of having no money is frankly laughable - only the laugh is at the taxpayer's expense of course.

If it were the case that such items truly made the Council work more efficiently and things were done cheaper and more effectively then no problem - the expense is then warranted, for those people such as the likes of Social workers in urgent call out care teams for example. But, as I said, out of those 110 Councillors who were given these, how many held 'urgent' posts, where their presence would be required immediately, or where thir lack of presence would cause real problems? Not many I would suspect.

And, should you care to ask residents around your locality what they would prefer - their care home / community centre or whatever back or able to keep on running, or their Councillor to have a 'smartphone', I have a feeling I know what the answer would likely be...don't you?
I hardly think that council staff are "arming themselves with every geek gadget under the sun", that comment is almost as sensationalist as this entire article. A small minority of councillors have been given iPads, the vast majority of these "gadgets" are being used by council staff (i.e. not councillors) And that in itself is further sensationalist language. Smartphones are far from "gadgets"' I would imagine that a large proportion of the population has a smartphone! I'm sure if this article was written 20 years ago the headline would have read "Councils spend thousands on computers for council staff!!" And no doubt the same comments would have been made then as have been made today. Gosh, heaven forbid anyone who worked for a council in 1990's should have a computer.
.
As you've pointed out, if these "gadgets" are for Social Workers or other such staff, or they makes things more efficient then the expense is warranted. I agree completely and that's my point about how one-sided and lazy the article is, it doesn't demonstrate whether that is the case. It bangs on using phrases like "splashing out on gadgets" and "dishing out 900 handsets", without actually putting any of it into context. It doesn't reveal the staff types it has gone to, it doesn't mention if it then allows staff to be able to answer emails out of hours or when they are away from the office, it doesn't mention how much money has even saved on printing and paper costs etc etc. That's how proper journalism is supposed to work. Present people with ALL the facts and then allow people to come to a reasoned and informed opinion.
.
Instead, the Echo goes after sensationalist headlines in order to find another stick to beat the public sector with. Judging by te comments on here, it has well and truly succeeded in that aim!
[quote][p][bold]Longbowman666[/bold] wrote: Bingbong - Yes, technology moves forward - and as you might have noticed, the latest technology comes with a larger price tag! And, as is being pointed out, if an individual wishes to arm themselves with every geek gadget under the sun then that's their affair. However, for any Council to spend money on 'toys' for its 'boys' when on the other hand they are crying out about having to cut this and drop that because of having no money is frankly laughable - only the laugh is at the taxpayer's expense of course. If it were the case that such items truly made the Council work more efficiently and things were done cheaper and more effectively then no problem - the expense is then warranted, for those people such as the likes of Social workers in urgent call out care teams for example. But, as I said, out of those 110 Councillors who were given these, how many held 'urgent' posts, where their presence would be required immediately, or where thir lack of presence would cause real problems? Not many I would suspect. And, should you care to ask residents around your locality what they would prefer - their care home / community centre or whatever back or able to keep on running, or their Councillor to have a 'smartphone', I have a feeling I know what the answer would likely be...don't you?[/p][/quote]I hardly think that council staff are "arming themselves with every geek gadget under the sun", that comment is almost as sensationalist as this entire article. A small minority of councillors have been given iPads, the vast majority of these "gadgets" are being used by council staff (i.e. not councillors) And that in itself is further sensationalist language. Smartphones are far from "gadgets"' I would imagine that a large proportion of the population has a smartphone! I'm sure if this article was written 20 years ago the headline would have read "Councils spend thousands on computers for council staff!!" And no doubt the same comments would have been made then as have been made today. Gosh, heaven forbid anyone who worked for a council in 1990's should have a computer. . As you've pointed out, if these "gadgets" are for Social Workers or other such staff, or they makes things more efficient then the expense is warranted. I agree completely and that's my point about how one-sided and lazy the article is, it doesn't demonstrate whether that is the case. It bangs on using phrases like "splashing out on gadgets" and "dishing out 900 handsets", without actually putting any of it into context. It doesn't reveal the staff types it has gone to, it doesn't mention if it then allows staff to be able to answer emails out of hours or when they are away from the office, it doesn't mention how much money has even saved on printing and paper costs etc etc. That's how proper journalism is supposed to work. Present people with ALL the facts and then allow people to come to a reasoned and informed opinion. . Instead, the Echo goes after sensationalist headlines in order to find another stick to beat the public sector with. Judging by te comments on here, it has well and truly succeeded in that aim! bingbong

10:32pm Mon 5 Nov 12

Jolly Roger says...

Well that money would have been better spent on putting white lines on ALL countryside Roads especially over the tops like roads from Teesdale into Weardale.

And if these people cannoy afford they own phones why have to council bought them one.

CAN I HAVE ONE PLEASE. - I pay my council tax also.
Well that money would have been better spent on putting white lines on ALL countryside Roads especially over the tops like roads from Teesdale into Weardale. And if these people cannoy afford they own phones why have to council bought them one. CAN I HAVE ONE PLEASE. - I pay my council tax also. Jolly Roger

11:42pm Mon 5 Nov 12

Longbowman666 says...

The public sector seems to do a good enough job of creating its own sticks to beat itself with, without any from anywhere else! The justification of the 'smartphone' as being that a fair percentage of people have one so why shouldn't councillors / officials ignores the points made above, in that its not private money thats being spent on them but public funds, at a time when even private firms don't dish out such items to their staff. And when they do, they look at the issue of need. Ask yourself - out of the thousand and one things that your phone can do, how many do you really use?

The original article states that 110 of 126 Councillors were given these handsets - why? What was wrong with them having their own phones, paid for by themselves? You choose to run for being a Councillor, you get expenses for same, so why should the public purse pay out for a phone for you when you in all probability have a perfectly decent and usable phone already? Ditto computers and the like. As far as I'm aware any compatibilty issues with programmes can be worked out via an IT Dept, so no real worries there.

Put bluntly, they don't really need them, but hell, its only money, and look at these things, we can do so much with them...

Wouldn't it be interesting to find out just how much of the phone bill each one racks up actually is on Council business, and how much personal?

But then transparency only goes so far, doesn't it?
The public sector seems to do a good enough job of creating its own sticks to beat itself with, without any from anywhere else! The justification of the 'smartphone' as being that a fair percentage of people have one so why shouldn't councillors / officials ignores the points made above, in that its not private money thats being spent on them but public funds, at a time when even private firms don't dish out such items to their staff. And when they do, they look at the issue of need. Ask yourself - out of the thousand and one things that your phone can do, how many do you really use? The original article states that 110 of 126 Councillors were given these handsets - why? What was wrong with them having their own phones, paid for by themselves? You choose to run for being a Councillor, you get expenses for same, so why should the public purse pay out for a phone for you when you in all probability have a perfectly decent and usable phone already? Ditto computers and the like. As far as I'm aware any compatibilty issues with programmes can be worked out via an IT Dept, so no real worries there. Put bluntly, they don't really need them, but hell, its only money, and look at these things, we can do so much with them... Wouldn't it be interesting to find out just how much of the phone bill each one racks up actually is on Council business, and how much personal? But then transparency only goes so far, doesn't it? Longbowman666

8:38am Tue 6 Nov 12

neilt63 says...

As stated in a previous comment, "this is only the tip of the iceberg" Anyone intrested should take a look at DCC's expenditure. http://content.durha
m.gov.uk/PDFReposito
ry/Council_transacti
ons_over_500_Sep_201
2.pdf.
Makes interesting reading to see how many "miscellaneous" payments go through.
As stated in a previous comment, "this is only the tip of the iceberg" Anyone intrested should take a look at DCC's expenditure. http://content.durha m.gov.uk/PDFReposito ry/Council_transacti ons_over_500_Sep_201 2.pdf. Makes interesting reading to see how many "miscellaneous" payments go through. neilt63

11:44am Tue 6 Nov 12

MST1975 says...

Funny that, I was asked to fill in a questionnaire on Sunday, in Darlington, on an iPad, by a council employee, yet they have never bought 1???
Funny that, I was asked to fill in a questionnaire on Sunday, in Darlington, on an iPad, by a council employee, yet they have never bought 1??? MST1975

1:22pm Tue 6 Nov 12

Copley23 says...

the-big-yin wrote:
neilt63 wrote:
Are we surprised? Of course not, just another example of mismanaged budgets. These councils should be more accountable, to us the people who elect them. If I were as incompitant as some of these guys, I would have been unemployed by now. Where is the justification for these budget cuts, Glenholme Centre being demolished, fortnightly refuse collections and us all having services removed, when public money is wasted on such items.
also what about all the workers who are now based at home working on the gadgets and free internet connection given to them by the councils.
why the hell do they not go into work like any normal run company employees?
all councils are wasting milions....stop it now....
"......also what about all the workers who are now based at home working on the gadgets and free internet connection given to them by the councils".......

where did you hear this piece of nonsense from Big-Yin?
[quote][p][bold]the-big-yin[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]neilt63[/bold] wrote: Are we surprised? Of course not, just another example of mismanaged budgets. These councils should be more accountable, to us the people who elect them. If I were as incompitant as some of these guys, I would have been unemployed by now. Where is the justification for these budget cuts, Glenholme Centre being demolished, fortnightly refuse collections and us all having services removed, when public money is wasted on such items.[/p][/quote]also what about all the workers who are now based at home working on the gadgets and free internet connection given to them by the councils. why the hell do they not go into work like any normal run company employees? all councils are wasting milions....stop it now....[/p][/quote]"......also what about all the workers who are now based at home working on the gadgets and free internet connection given to them by the councils"....... where did you hear this piece of nonsense from Big-Yin? Copley23

1:23pm Tue 6 Nov 12

Copley23 says...

bingbong wrote:
Longbowman666 wrote:
Bingbong - Yes, technology moves forward - and as you might have noticed, the latest technology comes with a larger price tag! And, as is being pointed out, if an individual wishes to arm themselves with every geek gadget under the sun then that's their affair. However, for any Council to spend money on 'toys' for its 'boys' when on the other hand they are crying out about having to cut this and drop that because of having no money is frankly laughable - only the laugh is at the taxpayer's expense of course.

If it were the case that such items truly made the Council work more efficiently and things were done cheaper and more effectively then no problem - the expense is then warranted, for those people such as the likes of Social workers in urgent call out care teams for example. But, as I said, out of those 110 Councillors who were given these, how many held 'urgent' posts, where their presence would be required immediately, or where thir lack of presence would cause real problems? Not many I would suspect.

And, should you care to ask residents around your locality what they would prefer - their care home / community centre or whatever back or able to keep on running, or their Councillor to have a 'smartphone', I have a feeling I know what the answer would likely be...don't you?
I hardly think that council staff are "arming themselves with every geek gadget under the sun", that comment is almost as sensationalist as this entire article. A small minority of councillors have been given iPads, the vast majority of these "gadgets" are being used by council staff (i.e. not councillors) And that in itself is further sensationalist language. Smartphones are far from "gadgets"' I would imagine that a large proportion of the population has a smartphone! I'm sure if this article was written 20 years ago the headline would have read "Councils spend thousands on computers for council staff!!" And no doubt the same comments would have been made then as have been made today. Gosh, heaven forbid anyone who worked for a council in 1990's should have a computer.
.
As you've pointed out, if these "gadgets" are for Social Workers or other such staff, or they makes things more efficient then the expense is warranted. I agree completely and that's my point about how one-sided and lazy the article is, it doesn't demonstrate whether that is the case. It bangs on using phrases like "splashing out on gadgets" and "dishing out 900 handsets", without actually putting any of it into context. It doesn't reveal the staff types it has gone to, it doesn't mention if it then allows staff to be able to answer emails out of hours or when they are away from the office, it doesn't mention how much money has even saved on printing and paper costs etc etc. That's how proper journalism is supposed to work. Present people with ALL the facts and then allow people to come to a reasoned and informed opinion.
.
Instead, the Echo goes after sensationalist headlines in order to find another stick to beat the public sector with. Judging by te comments on here, it has well and truly succeeded in that aim!
Nice.
[quote][p][bold]bingbong[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Longbowman666[/bold] wrote: Bingbong - Yes, technology moves forward - and as you might have noticed, the latest technology comes with a larger price tag! And, as is being pointed out, if an individual wishes to arm themselves with every geek gadget under the sun then that's their affair. However, for any Council to spend money on 'toys' for its 'boys' when on the other hand they are crying out about having to cut this and drop that because of having no money is frankly laughable - only the laugh is at the taxpayer's expense of course. If it were the case that such items truly made the Council work more efficiently and things were done cheaper and more effectively then no problem - the expense is then warranted, for those people such as the likes of Social workers in urgent call out care teams for example. But, as I said, out of those 110 Councillors who were given these, how many held 'urgent' posts, where their presence would be required immediately, or where thir lack of presence would cause real problems? Not many I would suspect. And, should you care to ask residents around your locality what they would prefer - their care home / community centre or whatever back or able to keep on running, or their Councillor to have a 'smartphone', I have a feeling I know what the answer would likely be...don't you?[/p][/quote]I hardly think that council staff are "arming themselves with every geek gadget under the sun", that comment is almost as sensationalist as this entire article. A small minority of councillors have been given iPads, the vast majority of these "gadgets" are being used by council staff (i.e. not councillors) And that in itself is further sensationalist language. Smartphones are far from "gadgets"' I would imagine that a large proportion of the population has a smartphone! I'm sure if this article was written 20 years ago the headline would have read "Councils spend thousands on computers for council staff!!" And no doubt the same comments would have been made then as have been made today. Gosh, heaven forbid anyone who worked for a council in 1990's should have a computer. . As you've pointed out, if these "gadgets" are for Social Workers or other such staff, or they makes things more efficient then the expense is warranted. I agree completely and that's my point about how one-sided and lazy the article is, it doesn't demonstrate whether that is the case. It bangs on using phrases like "splashing out on gadgets" and "dishing out 900 handsets", without actually putting any of it into context. It doesn't reveal the staff types it has gone to, it doesn't mention if it then allows staff to be able to answer emails out of hours or when they are away from the office, it doesn't mention how much money has even saved on printing and paper costs etc etc. That's how proper journalism is supposed to work. Present people with ALL the facts and then allow people to come to a reasoned and informed opinion. . Instead, the Echo goes after sensationalist headlines in order to find another stick to beat the public sector with. Judging by te comments on here, it has well and truly succeeded in that aim![/p][/quote]Nice. Copley23

1:29pm Tue 6 Nov 12

sarahd says...

I bought one of my employees a mobile as she needed one for her job. Not a smartphone, it was £10 from orange. Why do they need smartphones if they just need to call people, that includes social workers, as people have pointed out that they will need a phone in emergencies.

I'm all for the council giving people what they need to do their job but why does it need to be the most expensive one off the list.

Smart phones can be picked up quite cheaply now but not for a tenner I'm sure and when there are lots getting bought, it soon adds up
I bought one of my employees a mobile as she needed one for her job. Not a smartphone, it was £10 from orange. Why do they need smartphones if they just need to call people, that includes social workers, as people have pointed out that they will need a phone in emergencies. I'm all for the council giving people what they need to do their job but why does it need to be the most expensive one off the list. Smart phones can be picked up quite cheaply now but not for a tenner I'm sure and when there are lots getting bought, it soon adds up sarahd

7:35pm Tue 6 Nov 12

mark.wilkinson says...

I really don't know why we should expect anything else from this or any other council. They're all rotten to the core.
I really don't know why we should expect anything else from this or any other council. They're all rotten to the core. mark.wilkinson

12:45pm Thu 8 Nov 12

mumof2teenagers says...

Disgraceful a waste of money,
Disgraceful a waste of money, mumof2teenagers

2:45pm Thu 8 Nov 12

loonyleft says...

lets stop spending money on anything that'll put the country right won't it.
lets stop spending money on anything that'll put the country right won't it. loonyleft

9:35pm Thu 8 Nov 12

spragger says...

These people treat the taxpayer with disrespect.
What would you do if your business was bust, you would stop spending.
But not this lot as their boney fingers can pick your pockets for the few quid you have.
There is a real worry they do not get it and are biding their time until Labour come back and we go back to inflation busting CT rises
These people treat the taxpayer with disrespect. What would you do if your business was bust, you would stop spending. But not this lot as their boney fingers can pick your pockets for the few quid you have. There is a real worry they do not get it and are biding their time until Labour come back and we go back to inflation busting CT rises spragger

10:48pm Thu 8 Nov 12

ajtib3 says...

See a daft headline and spout nonsense seems to be the approach by most complainants here.

I'm quite surprised, in fact, given the numbers of employees these councils have that the numbers embracing new technologies is so poor.

Councils, more than any other employer, have to interact with each other, with the public, with other organisations, within departments, with suppliers and so on.

We live in an information age - in the days when all these contacts were done by letter you needed a lot more staff, everything took longer to achieve and so many more resources were wasted.

Almost all council business is now done by e-mail - a lot is also done on the move. It would be nonsense to go back to previous methods.

The only problem I have with the above spending is Scarborough who seem to have bought all their councillors I-pads - that seems odd. They are the biggest offenders on i-pads and by the way Spragger they are a Tory council.

And it is the Government who are encouraging councils to embrace these technologies.

For example, the Government is encouraging councils, healthcare trusts, educational facilities and other public bodies to take advantage of new technology and save money by trading with suppliers electronically. These savings are achieved by cutting paperwork, reducing errors and paying invoices on time. E-procurement also allows organisations to consolidate their purchasing power thus achieving better relationships with preferred suppliers.

So get informed before making the usual obvious knee-jerk reactions - using smartphones, computers, lap-tops etc cuts staff numbers and actually saves time and money.
See a daft headline and spout nonsense seems to be the approach by most complainants here. I'm quite surprised, in fact, given the numbers of employees these councils have that the numbers embracing new technologies is so poor. Councils, more than any other employer, have to interact with each other, with the public, with other organisations, within departments, with suppliers and so on. We live in an information age - in the days when all these contacts were done by letter you needed a lot more staff, everything took longer to achieve and so many more resources were wasted. Almost all council business is now done by e-mail - a lot is also done on the move. It would be nonsense to go back to previous methods. The only problem I have with the above spending is Scarborough who seem to have bought all their councillors I-pads - that seems odd. They are the biggest offenders on i-pads and by the way Spragger they are a Tory council. And it is the Government who are encouraging councils to embrace these technologies. For example, the Government is encouraging councils, healthcare trusts, educational facilities and other public bodies to take advantage of new technology and save money by trading with suppliers electronically. These savings are achieved by cutting paperwork, reducing errors and paying invoices on time. E-procurement also allows organisations to consolidate their purchasing power thus achieving better relationships with preferred suppliers. So get informed before making the usual obvious knee-jerk reactions - using smartphones, computers, lap-tops etc cuts staff numbers and actually saves time and money. ajtib3

11:25pm Thu 8 Nov 12

Longbowman666 says...

Agreed, they can indeed save time and money - when used in the right places and by the right people. I don't imagine that many of the DCC Councillors are so urgently needed that it warrants giving 110 of them these handsets - and now they tell people who've had their bins stolen that they have to pay 20 quid for each bin to replace them!

As the person says above, such things are not always needed by everyone - so why give them to those who don't need them? Surely that's not cost effective!
Agreed, they can indeed save time and money - when used in the right places and by the right people. I don't imagine that many of the DCC Councillors are so urgently needed that it warrants giving 110 of them these handsets - and now they tell people who've had their bins stolen that they have to pay 20 quid for each bin to replace them! As the person says above, such things are not always needed by everyone - so why give them to those who don't need them? Surely that's not cost effective! Longbowman666

8:26am Sat 10 Nov 12

Liamsm says...

I'm sat watching my flat mate reading the sun on his new council provided iPad.....shocking!
I'm sat watching my flat mate reading the sun on his new council provided iPad.....shocking! Liamsm

11:03am Sat 10 Nov 12

the-big-yin says...

loonyleft wrote:
Big Yin, "why don't they go in to work like normal employees", it is very common place for people to work from home these days, it saves a lot of travelling time.
I would love a job where i can sit in my own home every day....
councils have buildings for them to sit at work in....
time for this to stop...i should not have to pay for them to have broadband and free phones, computers and tablets.....
[quote][p][bold]loonyleft[/bold] wrote: Big Yin, "why don't they go in to work like normal employees", it is very common place for people to work from home these days, it saves a lot of travelling time.[/p][/quote]I would love a job where i can sit in my own home every day.... councils have buildings for them to sit at work in.... time for this to stop...i should not have to pay for them to have broadband and free phones, computers and tablets..... the-big-yin

11:08am Sat 10 Nov 12

the-big-yin says...

Copley23 wrote:
the-big-yin wrote:
neilt63 wrote:
Are we surprised? Of course not, just another example of mismanaged budgets. These councils should be more accountable, to us the people who elect them. If I were as incompitant as some of these guys, I would have been unemployed by now. Where is the justification for these budget cuts, Glenholme Centre being demolished, fortnightly refuse collections and us all having services removed, when public money is wasted on such items.
also what about all the workers who are now based at home working on the gadgets and free internet connection given to them by the councils.
why the hell do they not go into work like any normal run company employees?
all councils are wasting milions....stop it now....
"......also what about all the workers who are now based at home working on the gadgets and free internet connection given to them by the councils".......

where did you hear this piece of nonsense from Big-Yin?
I have several friends who work in crook ( who are supposed to work from the white elephant,i mean the civic centre ) and work from home...
they have had phone lines and broadband installed...and this is not nonsense..get yourself into crook civic centre and ask...ITS TRUE....
[quote][p][bold]Copley23[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]the-big-yin[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]neilt63[/bold] wrote: Are we surprised? Of course not, just another example of mismanaged budgets. These councils should be more accountable, to us the people who elect them. If I were as incompitant as some of these guys, I would have been unemployed by now. Where is the justification for these budget cuts, Glenholme Centre being demolished, fortnightly refuse collections and us all having services removed, when public money is wasted on such items.[/p][/quote]also what about all the workers who are now based at home working on the gadgets and free internet connection given to them by the councils. why the hell do they not go into work like any normal run company employees? all councils are wasting milions....stop it now....[/p][/quote]"......also what about all the workers who are now based at home working on the gadgets and free internet connection given to them by the councils"....... where did you hear this piece of nonsense from Big-Yin?[/p][/quote]I have several friends who work in crook ( who are supposed to work from the white elephant,i mean the civic centre ) and work from home... they have had phone lines and broadband installed...and this is not nonsense..get yourself into crook civic centre and ask...ITS TRUE.... the-big-yin

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