Councillors back 50,000 expense on their gadgets

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

MID-ULSTER Councillors are planning to provide for themselves with almost 50,000 worth of gadgets per Council term.

Members of the Policy & Resources Committee have resolved to spend around 46,000 for each four years on smartphones, iPads, laptops and printers.

An array of modern gadgets have been suggested as potential purchases for the 40 members of the Council.

Each Councillor could receive 500 towards an iPad or laptop device for each four year term of the Council, 250 towards a mobile phone every 24 months and 150 towards a Multi-Function Printer device.

That means each member could have an allowance of up to 1,150 per Council term.

The issue of equipment provided to members being "inadequate" had initially been raised by Sinn Fein's Cathal Mallaghan, who had said they were "unsuitable for purpose".

A report was circulated to members at a meeting of the committee detailing the various gadgets available to members.

These included the iPhone 7 Plus (costing 729), Google's Pixel phone (605.99), the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (800-1,899) and the Apple iPad Pro tablet (700-840).

Other more modestly priced items were suggested, including the Windows 650 phone (160), Huawei P9 Lite phone (180), and the Apple iPad Air 2 tablet (390-500).

At the meeting, Councillor Mallaghan spoke first following the circulation of the report, reiterating that he "felt the current phone device was inadequate for Members' needs".

The Head of ICT, Barry O'Hagan, advised that the report included options for Members which should cater for differing needs.

Councillor Paul McLean (DUP) agreed that individual Members would have differing needs and asked if there was an option of a Councillor purchasing their own equipment and Council then providing reimbursement.

However, Finance Director JJ Tohill said that could prevent difficulties, while the Head of ICT said it was "unlikely" individuals would be able to secure as competitive pricing for items as the Council.

Councillor Dominic Molloy (Sinn Fein) suggested members could discuss with Council officers their individual needs, while Cllr Sean McGuigan asked if the total value of the proposed devices could be pooled to purchase a single item of equipment.

Mr O'Hagan advised that could be considered.

It was then agreed by members that Council would provide one mobile computing device (iPad or an alternative Windows based / Android device up to a maximum of 500 or other agreed figure per term of the Council for each member. The Council would also provide support, maintenance, repair and replacement of that device to members.

It was also resolved that the Council would provide a sim free smart phone for each member every 24 months to the value of 250 or another agreed figure, and a printer for each member every four years to the value of 150 or other agreed figure.


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