back to article Leicester City councillors eye up iPad to save £90k a year

A quartet of Leicester City councillors are currently trialling Apple’s iPad, and if successful the fondle slab could be issued to 50 other council members. But a council spokeswoman told The Register this morning that a report in today’s Daily Mail, which made the claims, was inaccurate. She then went on to explain that only …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward

    How Many Pages

    Lets assume 5p per page printed. 54 councillors. £90,000 pa printing costs.

    So that's some 33,333 pages per councillor per year. My those chaps go to a lot of meetings.

    1. Nextweek

      Re: How Many Pages

      The print cost is more than that. You have to factor in:

      The person that is printing it off,

      The person that is filling the printer with toner and paper,

      The person that is photocopying them,

      The person that is servicing the photocopier,

      The receptionist that is letting the photocopier service man in,

      The security guard that is monitoring the reception,

      The manager to authorise all the spending,

      The quality assurance group that checks the staff are making efficiency savings,

      The base cost of a printer,

      Of course what they should have done was simply said they were looking at ecological concerns and moving towards a paperless office.

      1. Code Monkey

        What they should've done

        What they should've done is given them all Scalextric if they're that desperate for toys.

      2. D@v3

        close, but...

        except in all those cases (except the service person) , the person in question is still there doing the same job. You don't loose the receptionist just because they don't have to let the service person in.

        The cost of the printing is more accurately reflected by, paper, ink, electricity, service contracts, and cost of device, than the people doing the printing/filling.

        1. Martin Lyne
          Paris Hilton


          If they get rid of all their printers I will be monumentally surprised.

          To support all those thoys they will have to bring in their own "genius".

          I. Fucking. DESPAIR.

          Council: DURP!

        2. Alan Firminger

          Slightly off beam

          It is more complicated than the analysis above.

          Probably the repro method is offset litho. Probably a van scurries round delivering papers twice a week.

          All papers do not all go to all members. But many go to council officers, the press, local MPs, the public with a long term interest in a subject and a heap for the public at meetings.

          So if they are going paperless then everyone will have to follow. Sounds like a good idea because with so much material almost all users will prefer to access a council archive than store a hundredweight and a half of paper.

          They will have to print one copy of all papers for the few who demand it, and they will get photocopies. And a copy of all minutes to be signed by the chair.

          The public in the gallery at meetings who won't be able to follow the arguments is a bit of a problem. They will find a solution to this.

        3. Ascylto
          Big Brother

          Oh dear ...

          "loose" the receptionist?

          You must work for the Council!

          I's LOSE, loser!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        In a recent efficiency costing drive at our authority, the printing of minutes and reports for the various evening meetings (especially planning reviews and the like) did go in to the tens of thousands.

        Issuing Councillors with specific machines is a winner on a number of counts, saving cost of the printing is only part of it....

        1) We can politically enforce them not sending official e-mails to private accounts as they have a work provided tool. (they are prevented from setting up automatic forwarding rules anyway)

        2) We've got control over the encryption of the data on the device they are given.

        3) There is no more wasting time trying to get our citrix conenctions and web based internal services working with a wide array of operating systems, browser versions and the rest of it that comes with councillors using their home machines to access the corporate network.

        ...and a whole host of other benefits that all add up in the end.

        But if we choose a, "pad," over a laptop, then it won't be the iPad; it'll likely be something less restrictive and allows us more control.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Could only be 6 printers

      Those 60 - 100 page per minute, staple/fold/etc printers cost ~£15k p.a. to lease.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      33K pages per councillor per year...

      Probably pretty close I'd say. Many years ago my father was a councillor and he about half an inch to an inch of A4 sheets delivered per week and he was only on one committee! (he always made a point of opening the envelopes before putting them in the recycling)

      Also that £90Kmight include some postage.

      Not that I think that either a £90K printing bill or a load of iPads are the solution. The problem isn't how to get all the information to the councillors but how to get enough relevant information to them so they can do their jobs without being drowned in a sea of rubbish.

      As it stand at the moment there is no way anyone could read everything a councillor is sent whether they're reading it on paper on an iPad.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC the councillor's son

        I work for a council and trust me it's nothing like 33K pages per councillor per year. Most of that stuff is electronic anyway these days. This was obviously just somebody frantically trying to justify frivolous spending on iPads and printing costs was the first thing they thought of. They probably relised it was a stupid thing to say about three seconds after they said it, but it's out there now.

    4. Thomas Davie

      Seems resonable

      Other people have pointed out that your cost estimation is probably low; but even if it isn't... The number sounds ballpark right. I can imagine that each of these councilors is printing out at least one new report or draft of the same report from yesterday, every single day. It would only take a 100 page report a day to roughly hit your estimate.

  2. mhoulden

    Sounds strangely familiar

    I suppose one way local government could save a lot of money would be to refuse to handle the endless requests for information from the Taxpayers Alliance. It never seems to do anything useful, just issue press releases full of mock outrage that newspapers use as cheap filler. It would be interesting so see how many requests councils receive from them and how much they cost.

  3. nickrw


    Please do not print this comment unless absolutely necessary.

  4. Alan 8
    Thumb Down

    council tax..

    Glad my council tax of over £1200 is going on something useful. I'd hate that the money would be spent clearing up the dump that is Leicester City Centre, such as the urine content of my stairwell...

    1. Semaj


      What you do in your own stairwell is no one else's business but your own ;)

      Seriously though I know what you mean - there are plenty areas in our city that could REALLY do with improving, anywhere near Frog Island for a start and maybe use the cash to paint that godawful blue tower. At least they are filling in the (scum shelter) underpass to the train station though so it's not all bad.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Funny that

    .....a techie type person manipluates figures to get iPad into the organisation. You know why, dont you?

    What? The technology doesnt exist to perform these functions already?

    Not much of a techie type then.

    More manipulative than techie.

  6. Kent Brockman


    Having worked in and for a number of local governments, both as staff and expensive consultant, I know that most councillors will struggle to find the on switch.

    and the day that they give up having everything printed on paper is the day satan goes to work on a toboggan...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yep. PA will print it out, photocopy it 3 times, file 1 copy, scan 1 back in to a document management system, give 1 to the councillor and give the same councillor the final copy once the previous one has been lost (<20 mins).

  7. TeeCee Gold badge

    Replacing costly printing.

    According to Conservative group leader Ross Grant: "I've asked for council agendas to be e-mailed as PDF files to the iPad so I no longer need printed documents."

    Yeah, 'cos you can't do that on a cheap netbook.

    Actually, thinking about it, given the iPad and the cheap netbook, which of these devices stands a chance of suddenly, unexpectedly and irrevocably losing its PDF compatibility* in a fit of "giving the shaft to Adobe" from its real owners?

    *Yes I know it's bloody unlikely, bordering on scaremongering, but the fact that it's possible at all should ring alarm bells if you're moving to an "everything in PDF" way of doing things.

    1. ThomH

      But PDF isn't like Flash

      It's widely implemented by people other than Adobe, including on the Mac and iPad where Apple wrote and hence have complete control over the PDF viewer. Apple aren't anti-Adobe per se, they're merely anti-Adobe (or anyone else) having a toe in the software or developer tool stack. At a guess, the calculation was that Flash was already sufficiently disliked that it was a better idea to go on the attack than to end up in a situation like they have with Carbon on the desktop where they end up supporting an obsolete technology for a decade for the benefit of third parties.

    2. R 11

      Yeah, 'cos you can't do that on a cheap netbook.

      As a reading device, a cheap netbook isn't a patch on an iPad.

      I've said elsewhere that the iPad has a number of flaws, but as a consumption device - including for reading PDFs - it is worth considering.

      I'm not sure about their calculation of potential savings, but it would certainly provide councillors with benefits through allowing them to carry a large volume of papers in a lightweight form factor.

      The poor options for annotations are, however, going to be a big problem. Who doesn't go to a meeting with scribblings all over the agenda and mark up the important parts of other papers as the meeting progresses.

    3. TeeCee Gold badge


      I retract that footnote.

      Elsewhere here: "The iOS 4 drive-by jailbreak released over the weekend uses a PDF exploit to weave its magic....."

      Can't be long now. Just waiting for the Jobsian announcement.......

  8. Anonymous Coward

    When I was a councillor..

    When I was a councillor (a little while ago) they gave us all a PC.. I guess these days most councillors are issued a laptop so they can do their work (email, casework and correspondence and for the more stupid ones, porn surfing).

    So.. presumably they have a laptop already.. why not bring those to meetings?

    1. Stevie


      Can you even *do* email on an iPad? It was my understanding that they were great for reading stuff, not so great for making it. No doubt I am mis-informed.

      I guess they could also recall all the laptops and sell them off , assuming Leicester doesn't do what my lot do and keep all such technology in a warehouse while they "assess" who should get it until it's obsolete and therefore worthless. I was issued a laptop running NT4 SP1 on a Pentium 1 two years after XP had become the de facto standard in the office, around 2002 or so. I would like to tell you how it performed but the battery couldn't power it through a complete boot so it sat in a drawer and is probably still there today - I'm not, thank Azathoth.

      As for paperless offices, well, wait until it dawns on people that they must maintain the infrastructure to keep it in operation. After that math is done, and a couple of accidents have shelved business for the day, the slide back into paper-full offices is inevitable.

  9. Andy G

    For a technology site... guys sure are sniffy whenever anyone tries to make use of technology!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hardly sniffy....

      Just informative. I'd be hopping bloody mad if my council (NSDC) went down this path. This is a 'rights' based approach. ie It is my "right" to have a PC/laptop/iPhone/iPad/all expences junket if my peers and subordinates have one. If it can be justified on an 'as needed' basis and passes a 'proper' CBA then by all means make use of technology but don't just supply for the sake of 'technology', please.

  10. Shig


    Couldn't they just fire another 50 people and make do with paper?

  11. someone up north

    £90K saving easy!

    Just sack any one of the councilor!

    to save more ,just repeat the above step

    my moto is

    Upad = I sack

    Apple not included

    1. James Melody

      Councillors don't get paid a salary.

      They can only get reimbursed expenses....

      ...mine is the one with the iPhone MAXI in the pocket.

  12. SonnyJimm


    I send my manager a PDF document...all he has to do is read it and replay saying "yep, it's ok"... but what he actually does is print out the PDF.

    Mind, you, he did push paper recycling...but we didn't use as much paper before he came along

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Toys for the big knobs

    During my previous contract, the organisation had an activity to procure handheld devices to assist with out-of-hours support calls, where individuals would be able to access specific secure servers and applications to help resolve calls without attending site. There were about 10 major requirements which pointed to a particular group of devices (mainly because they could run some code already in use on desktops)

    As this was under way, a bunch of managers (from other divisions) felt left out whilst visiting conferences and external meetings because they did not have Blackberries. When they returned, the entire procurement was redirected to buy Blackberries, despite these not fulfilling a single one of the ten major requirements. The IT folk have since been trying to hack everything such that the 150 Blackberries will actually fulfil their intended role with only limited success. But the big knobs have their free toys and the issues about why call-out payments are still as high as ever has yet to be discovered by the annual audit.

  14. spacca
    Thumb Up


    Well, I live in leicester and from where I am now I'm only a stones throw from the city offices.

    Cutting down needless printing is a great idea but the real financial problem the city council has in leicester is the main council building is unfit for use near abouts. In fact it's got to the point where it would either cost them hundreds of thousands just to make the building safe and sound without any real improvements or xx millions to build a new one. A couple of iPads isn't really a big deal when you put it into perspective.

    As for FAIL! posts - come on guys, do you really think hundreds of thousands of sheets of dormant paper is a good idea? You factor in all the costs of printing which includes the paper, the ink, the machines, the service costs of large printers and the re-prints because the documents have been updated (not to mention repair bills for large network printers which can cost thousands) and you begin to see why any way to reduce the tidal wave of paper in local councils would be a good idea.

    Sour grapes or just jealousy? Maybe all the techies on this post are just luddites....who knows eh!

    1. ian 22

      "I'm only a stones throw from the city offices."

      And you know this how?

      I'm sure they've got you dead to rights on CCTV!

    2. Stevie


      Oh give me a break! Do you seriously think that a few dozen iPads is going to lead the charge to a paperless council?

      How on earth do you think a council does business with the electorate, none of whom should be expected to shell out for iPads just so they can read a rate demand? I'll give you a hint: it involves pulping dead trees.

      If the council truly needs an electronic portable e-reader for the reasons it states, perhaps a look at the much less expensive and far more readable Kindle type devices would be in order? Paper savings AND iPad savings (as in: I just saved about 500 quid per iCouncilor in addition to the 90k techiequids saved).

      I think if we look hard enough, what we are going to find is a techie who wants an iPad but can't afford one. Sort of he reverse of the "daft boss tech decision" tales that litter these comments.

      But I'd settle for seeing his/her spreadsheet and having people here comment on the assumptions he (or she) made.

  15. James Cooke

    Its the only way forward

    because quite clearly a garden variety laptop or netbook couldn't do exactly what is being asked here nor even Amazons £100 kindle.

  16. Alan Denman

    Techie career prospects improve

    Helps the CV but ridicules the organisation.

    Only a small disaster this time though.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Everyone's at it!

    I work for a large, unpopular organisation with a logo that looks a little like a puckered anus. Can you guess who?

    ...Anyway there was great hilarity on a departmental tele-conference the other week when one of our staff took the head of department to task on why the executives were being issued with iPads. The stuttered justification that came back was it was being trialled as a 'video-conferencing tool'.

    Yeah, my company logo it is!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    If they do..

    I will put money on them NOT getting rid of the printers... and NOT being banned from bringing papers to meetings and NOT actually saving anything.

    in fact wasn't this the very same argument for everyone getting a free laptop?

    Boo! down with this sort of thing.

  19. Code Monkey

    P45s for some, toys for the elite

    That £90k saving sounds like complete shite to me.

  20. Peter Methven

    Laptop or iPad

    Ummm, maybe a laptop would do the same job, for lower price, and added into that they could replace the desktops with docking stations and save even more cash...

    Or maybe this is just an IT engineers idea to score himself a free iPad "for testing" that has back-fired!

    1. Alan Firminger

      Laptop or iPad

      They will certainly want to see a whole A4 page. There is a lot of geography in council business, most presented A4 portrait.

      An iPad is so much easier to access. Committees can be crowded round a table.

      And an iPad is not expensive.

  21. Sooty

    If this really is the reason

    Then why not get them something like a document or ebook reader, rather than a general purpose multimedia device like the ipad.

    It'll save even more money, not spending 25 grand+ on ipads, that the councillors will likely get to keep when they move on. Nevermind the lost "productivity" from when they forget to charge them overnight.

    My bet is that even with an ipad, they'll still print documents out. I'm a software professional, who owns an ebook reader, and i still prefer to print things out and scribble on them, councillors have no chance!

  22. Kevin7

    How big a saving?

    If they think they can save 90 grand a year on printing, how much are they printing? I mean that's a "saving" which presumably includes the cost of the iPads as well as a guesstimate figure on how much they'll still print. Still all sounds like horseshit to me. I don't there can be anything more galling than buying lifestyle gadgets with public money whilst laying off staff and cutting services. How about just educating these idiots to stop clicking "print" as often?

  23. PTR


    If they can save £90k by using iPads, imagine how much they can save by using netbooks, which are half the price.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Onsite Leicester City BOFH thinking...

    He fancies new pad, but doesn't want to pay for it. So what does he do?

    - Creates plausible IT business case for using ipads in "customer-centric, win-win, vertical market application paradigm <insert more buzzwords here>"

    - Inserts barely plausible cost saving scenario

    - Exec's see the ££££ and glaze over, approving his "trial sample"

    - Trial sample is ordered and paid for

    - "Trial" is "performed", and surprise surprise, the cost benefit is far less than thought

    - Project is canned, costs written off and "Trial sample" stays in IT department. Or his house

    I have never, ever done this myself to obtain the fanciest shiny IT toy. Never. Oh no.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Central Govt

    Quite simple, make councils raise all their taxes locally. Then we can vote locally to get rid of the idiots. The country is borrowing 160bn a year and these dicks are buying ipads!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    How this happened...?

    Councillor 1: Hey Dave, have you seen those new iPads, I want one, when is my Council laptop due for replacement? I can't get one on expenses these days, it's too controversial.

    Dave from IT: Yes I've seen them, but they aren't really useful for anything. You'll get a new Dell or HP same as everyone else in 2012.

    Councillor 1: But I can't carry that to meetings, it's too heavy for me when I have to shift this fat belly and thighs like a truck, couldn't we work this in as a replacement for meeting notes?

    Dave: *sigh*

    Council Boss: Yeah I want one too. Dave order 4, we'll "trial" them with my best mates.

    Dave: But....

    Council Boss: I'll sign off on a new workstation for your team.

    Dave: OK, whatever...

    Councillors: YAY! Free iPad.

  27. Keith 21

    Who'd have thought it?

    "But a council spokeswoman told The Register this morning that a report in today’s Daily Mail, which made the claims, was inaccurate."

    Well who'd have thought it?

    The Daily Mail printing made-up shite.


    Anyone surprised?


  28. Squirrel

    glue and lots of it

    You really have to wonder what brand of glue they are sniffing sometimes. iPads is not their first spending spree...

    £500k Leicester's big screen... a big 18ft LED monitor down one of the more open streets that carries no content or usable seating, and costs £45k a year to run.

    £1m chewing gun clean up for the Queen's visit.

    £19m on re-paving the city centre (after cleaning the gum) then destroying all business with....

    ££££ on highcross/shires shopping centre, making all the traditional shop streets go bust

    Really, lots of glue and a special brand at that.

  29. JaitcH

    Just another distraction from doing REAL work

    All the Lemon toys will do is to provide distractions at council meetings.

    In all this paper saving did anyone really figure out the running costs of all these things? Since council is a business type activity surely they should consider a business solution - RIM.

    Of course they could see all those girlie pictures, etc. It's unlikely they read all the handouts so why do they think they will see more on a small screen.

    A waste of tax payers money.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    an inaccurate article? in the daily mail? surely not. usually it is the very epitome of truth and correctness.

    oh wait, no it isn't, it's britain's longest running recruitment leaflet for the BNP.

  31. Bear Features


    I'm sorry... but can somebody please say it. How much are Apple paying for all this publicity and sh*t.

    Why by all these iPads when a netbook can do a better job at half the price?

    1. Squirrel


      I can understand their need for such a device that can view PDFs in a meeting... commonly referred to as a laptop... but limited functionality luxury items like the ipad... why don't we just buy a couple of helicopters whilst we're at it because the mayor's car is obviously unsuitable for the task based on their tech criteria for purchasing.

  32. Bryan Anderson

    Sounds fishy....

    Seem to remember an almost word-for-word story about councillors in Cambridgeshire shortly before the iPad was launched.

  33. LuMan

    Not convinced

    There's a big difference between 'could' and 'will'. If you factor in the amount of paper, toner, electricity and maintenance that each person uses and then multiply it my the forecasted number of iPadd users, you could very well hit the £90k mark (particularly if you include the working time of the tech support bod).

    However, factor in the training, maintenance, tech support, power requirements and accessories (nice case, screen protector, combined fountain pen-stylus device) and the fact that a considerable amount of documents will still be flippin' well printed out (probably wirelessly, though) and that £90k saving starts to diminish.

    It's good that someone's investigating the feasibility of such a plan, but, perhaps, as with electric cars, we're just not quite ready for it yet.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Councillors have to have the best kit because

    they are such very important people... Just ask them: they'll tell you...

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Standard stuff...

    This is just one of the exceptions when we get to find this stuff out...this mentality makes me realise why I pay so much in Taxes and receive so little in return...

  36. Lloyd


    Not really fussed about the iPad so I' don't know the specs but it doesn't encrypt data does it? So it's not secure, so any of these that are lost containing confidential info will be exposed for all and sundry will they not? So, they're not following governmental guidelines?

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Parking scheme

    The new parking scheme in the Westcotes ward that most have repeatedly said "no" to will pay for them...

    'scuse my language but : w*nkers.

  38. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Why so negative?

    Why are people so negative about councils improving the way they work?

    If they have a document on the iPad it can be edited, searched easily, emailed and so on. Paper can't do that and lugging a laptop around is a pain too (especially through doors with security locks).

    Tablets have a place in the paperless office, just because Microsoft didn't understand tablets and produced a rubbish tablet OS doesn't mean everyone else is prone to failure. If anything Microsoft had no Apple or Xerox to rip off this time.

    Even with the Slate they still don't seem to understand that desktop design paradigms don't work on mobile touch screen devices. You have to scrap the existing interface and start again!

  39. Mark C 2


    Just make all of the Council's financial transactions value > 5 quid available to anyone via a public portal.

    After all, it is not the Council's money because they don't have any, it is our money and we want to know how it is being spent.


    Megaphone...because someone needs to listen.

  40. Cliff

    Paperless office

    Paperless meetings do not work. This is a very stupid idea. Each counsellor has to be seen to be doing something, making notes, action points, etc for the meetings. Seeing as typing on an iPad adds about a day to any short meeting, they'll make notes with pens and paper. And as opposed to trying to remember which cases those notes related to, and copying text from the screen, from week 2 people will start turning up with paper copies they printed.

    How do I know this? Because before it was iPads it was notebooks, then laptops, etc - and between them they have **INCREASED** the amount of paper used in the average office. This is a criminally stupid waste of money - tell you what I'll match every pound it saves over the promised £90k if the 'techie type' who wrote the report will match every pound it wastes for charity.

  41. The Infamous Grouse

    Cheeky buggers

    I notice that, according to The Telegraph, these are 64GB iPads. Just how many PDFs are they expecting to be e-mailed?

    I'd love to be in charge of configuring these new toys. They'd get iBooks for the PDFs, accounts for the corporate IMAP server, maybe corporate LDAP and CalDAV, and everything else would be locked down and passcoded.

    No Safari, no iTunes, no YouTube, no App Store and no loading your own music or movies. I'd be interested to see how keen the councillors would be on the 'productive', 'money saving' tools then.

  42. This post has been deleted by its author

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why doesn't The Register simply raise a Freedom of Information request and as for the sums?

  44. Anonymous Coward


    Surely the ipad is currently not secure enough to be connected to or receive/store data from Government networks that require up to restricted level security. Is Leicester City Council somehow exempt from GCSx CoCo compliance?

    1. Ascylto
      Big Brother


      Leicester City Council are not exempt.

      That is, until an employee leaves an iPad or other storage device on a bus (opps, silly me) in a taxi or in a First Class rail compartment. THEN they're exempt!

  45. Ascylto
    Big Brother

    Oh, so close ...

    How else are councillors to be able to view their pronography whilst sitting in Council Meetings to discuss leaf blowing in the city parks?

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You've not factored in the cost saving of the Councillors equipment.

    I work in a council in IT, Councillors get the following.

    1. PC in their home

    2. Multipurpose printer/copier/fax

    3. Digital Camera???

    4. Broadband connection

    5. Routing equipment and associated security bumph to automatically encrypt and secure.

    The cost of this and yearly upkeep is more expensive than a basic ipad with 3g.

    On top of all the equipment they get in the home there is a support costs, where IT staff home visit to repair equipment, not ideal during working hours (seeing as most Councillors also have a day job, unless they are already techno confused pensioners).

    So I can see how an easy to use ipad could be perfect! I have seen trials of blackberry's, not ideal when the average Councillors dexterity is about the same as your average 70 year old.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The inside view

    As one on the inside i can say that everyone from street cleaners up has a blackberry at Leicester city council and can handle them just fine thank you very much. As far as councils go i would not trust a councilor to honestly return 10p to me, and i work with them! Sadly however not for much longer as Ipads seem more important than jobs.

    But for a little more info read the link:-

  48. ComputingData

    Against the law?

    Surely this is against procurement law?

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Leicester City councillors eye up iPad to save £90k a year

    I used to work for Leicester City Council and can confirm that there is a culture of wastefulness when it comes to IT. This is not just the Councillors but also upper-management and in fact entire departments.

    Leicester City Council's IT projects and initiatives are rarely thought through fully but they always ensure that the project brief has always got a money-saving benefit written into it. This is usually a figure that is based on largely unsubstantiated facts (and avoiding others) seemingly there to demonstrate a 'benefit' that is required to get the project green lighted. This of course also provides cover against anyone enquiring into why the project was undertaken, a la iPads.

    Many of LCC's IT projects fail to deliver all the benefits that they set out to achieve and others are complete failures that become a money pit that is dragged along like a dead dog for years. Some even end up being written off entirely and then more money is allocated into starting all over again with the mantra of using the 'lessons learned'.

    Back to the iPads, the supposed ‘saving of money’ is really just a smoke screen to try to dodge criticism over their actions. Councillors have always wanted (and often got) whatever is the latest buzz gadget so they can swan around showing them off without a real concern as to the cost that it puts on the taxpayer.

    LCC has trialled tablet PCs in the past from the likes of Dell and HP but there was never a scramble by Councillors to have one before and you could easily argue that since LCC is predominately Windows based (with some Novell on top) that the performance, integration and usefulness of those devices would far outstrip what can be achieved with the non-standard iPad.

    In my experience LCC have always ignored the fact that adopting technologies that are outside of their current scope of expertise increases costs. It results in an extra burden on the IT department which means a rise in costs through the extra staff required (or the deflection of staff from their existing core duties) and the training required to support the devices properly.

    Also worth noting is the fact that the IT department is told to always ‘jump’ when a call comes in from a Councillor requiring support. Meaning that a disproportionate amount of time is spent supporting them compared to other users in order to prevent a Councillor getting stroppy with the Head of IT and increasing the perceived threat of outsourcing the IT function, it was a genuine fear when I was there.

    Looking at the cost saving, all evidence points to the fact that the printing of documents has risen since IT became mainstream and I don't see how that will change with the latest iPad – people like to read from paper. Of all the meetings I attended I rarely saw anyone with a laptop or similar device, mostly it was the case that the meeting initiator would turn up with several printed copies of each document and hand them out to every attendee.

    In the end maybe a small saving will be made from the ones that make an effort to be paper free but when you add it all together it is obvious that the supposed £90,000 saving is a complete fallacy as any saving that is actually made in reduced paper consumption will be quickly wiped out by increased costs elsewhere.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like