Oct 15 2013

Willy Says: You do not need balls to make a stupid decision

cllr_william_stoodley_2Dear Editor

The Conservative administration’s decision to ban the iPAD trial for a small group of cross-party councillors is short sighted political rhetoric, the reasoning for which is flawed for the following reasons:

  • iPads were not given to Councillors for free – they were lent to them as a trial, in order to discharge their duties in the 21st century more efficiently.
  • Those Councillors who accepted iPads for trial have had to sign an agreement that if they did not return them at the end of their term of office, the purchase price would be docked from their allowance. It would be like saying a Rep has been “given” a “free” car but he/she hasn’t  – they’ve been lent a car to use for their work.
  • Once returned, the iPad would be re-lent to another Councillor. This negates Cllr Osborn’s pathetic justification for removing the iPads, which is that the iPad will have decreased in value and thus cost the Council money.
  • Those who accepted iPads also had to agree not to receive any paper notifications, Council agendas or reports, as they would instead be receiving the information electronically on their iPad. It is well known how much paper those Cabinet papers, Planning Committee papers, Licensing Committee papers, Council Meeting papers etc. contain.

Let’s take an example: the Cabinet agenda papers are usually around 400-500 pages – for the next meeting they are 388 pages and the additional Cabinet briefing papers are 294 pages – probably a lower number of pages than average for the last 6 years. If a Councillor opted for an iPad they would not get paper copies, saving the Council and the tax payer money on printing, administration of printing and the special courier delivery of papers to members. There are many other committees, briefing and other such papers in Council work. At even only 5p a sheet an iPad would amount to a saving of around £500-£600 a year. So the Council (a) gets its money back in only a year (b) still owns the iPad and (c) helps the environment. Cllr Osborn will no doubt counter-argue that whilst the cost of an iPad is a quantifiable amount of money that will show up in the budget figures as an actual saving, whereas the saving of printing costs will not; I leave the reader to judge on that one!

Let’s take another example: the Council’s courier service that delivers Council papers to Councillors’ homes would cease to be needed if every Councillor received his/her papers by iPad. Perhaps Cllr Osborn would care to divulge how much money that would save the Council?

A modern, efficient Harrow Council fit for 21st century must surely be the call of the day, so that we can deliver efficient services and provide value for money to our residents. Cllr Osborn should have done his homework before bragging to the press, so that he would have known who is accepting or rejecting this offer and whether alternatives to the iPad with fewer specifications might be more suitable. I hope the Conservative Group are putting more effort into getting things done for residents, rather than managing media and their own version of facts for political publicity. Whatever the justification and spin about marginal, variable or fixed costs with which Cllr Osborn will undoubtedly cloud with his political rhetoric, it will not hide the fact that this is a stupid, sloppy and costly decision made merely for political publicity.

Cllr William Stoodley

West Harrow Ward

Independent Labour Group



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