By Cara Sulieman
COUNCILLORS have been slammed after voting to give themselves BlackBerrys in a move that could cost taxpayers £37,800.
And the decision comes after a trial showed that councillors found the phones had a “significant advantage” over regular mobiles.
But it has sparked outrage over the costs involved to the taxpayer.
The picky politicians dismissed other brands of mobile devices as “less satisfactory,” although they will also be available.
But the BlackBerry costs more per month than the other internet phones, leaving the council shelling out an extra £8,400 a year so that officials can have the sylish models.
Mark Wallace, campaign manager at the Taxpayer’s Alliance, is outraged to hear that public money is being spent on “luxuries.”
He said: “It is unfair that whilst local residents are losing their jobs and struggling under the burden of council tax bills, councillors are voting themselves luxuries at taxpayer’s expense.
“If a councillor wants a BlackBerry they should be paying for it themselves out of their generous allowances, not charging it to their constituents.”
But the council has defended their action, saying that the local politicians will find their jobs easier and be more efficient with the phones.
A spokeswoman for the council said: “Like everyone else, the councillors will be able to check their email on the go, enabling them to stay in touch with their office and constituents. It is important to stay up to date with technological improvements.”
The essential accessory for on-the-go movers and shakers was chosen after a trail period by a few politicians.
They reported that “in terms of cost the Outlook Mobile Access device has the advantage in a lower monthly charge, but in terms of functionality and user satisfaction a greater number of members expressed preference for the BlackBerry.”
Acting as mini-computers, BlackBerry’s give users access to their emails and the internet anywhere at anytime.
Along with phone calls, text messages and various useful programmes the phone has become known as the ultimate all-in-one package.
Associated with city slickers and busy executives, its usual home is a far cry from the 60s concrete building that is home to North Lanarkshire Council.