Apple not healthy for council finances

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By Kirsty Topping

 

North Lanarkshire replaced first generation iPads with iPad2s

A SCOTTISH council splashed out £2,500 on trendy iPads, only to replace them with iPad2s just months later.

And another local authority blew £1,500 on a high-spec computer designed for playing the latest video games.

In total, councils across Scotland have splurged at least £64,000 on must-have Apple gadgets in the past year.

The spending, revealed in a Freedom of Information request, has been condemned by groups representing hard-pressed taxpayers.

North Lanarkshire council admitted it had spent £13,500 providing staff with Apple iPads and the latest iPhone4 handsets in the past two years.

In 2009/2010 they bought 11 first generation iPads, before purchasing another 10 a year later.

But, apparently not content with having 21 of the high-end tablet computers, last year the council also bought four updated iPad2s, which cost up to £659 each.

A council official admitted the devices “were issued to staff to replace iPad1s”.

The spending on trendy gadgets is not limited to Apple products.

Edinburgh council forked out £1,400 for a top-of-the-range PC made by Alienware, a brand targeted at hardcore gamers.

The authority claimed the device was purchased for “security system improvement”.

Council bosses in the capital also bought 74 iPads last year.

Tiny Shetland Isles council did not buy any iPads but went straight for the newer technology, purchasing 15 iPad2s at a cost of up to £9,885.

Argyll and Bute, East Ayrshire and West Lothian also said they had bought the gadgets for staff.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance described the spending as an “extravagance”.

Matthew Sinclair said: “iPads are a luxury gadget, not the tool an authority would go for if it was seriously trying to save money.

“With councils claiming to be facing hard times they should be keeping costs down not splashing taxpayers’ cash on iPads or other premium electronics.

“For North Lanarkshire to be buying expensive replacements just a year later is particularly incredible.

“Councils need to remember that the money they are spending comes from families, many of whom don’t have anything like the money for this kind of extravagance, particularly now with so much pressure on everyone’s budget.”

But North Lanarkshire council defended the purchase of the iPads.

A spokesman said: “The iPad2s were purchased for teaching purposes within schools’ computing departments, not individual or personal use.

“We have a duty to stay abreast of technological change across all computing platforms to allow curriculum and pupil development.”

A spokesman for the City of Edinburgh Council said: “The Alienware hardware was required as part of a security system improvement project. This specification of equipment was needed to run a complex video rendering application that the Council uses.  The other high spec computers were bought for schools used for educational purposes.”

Earlier this month North Lanarkshire council were criticised when it was revealed that they were footing the £27,000 bill to take MSP John Pentland’s granddaughter to a dance school in Glasgow.

In January the council announced a budget cut of £55m.

And Edinburgh has been under fire for the ongoing trams fiasco, which has left them with a £200m shortfall after the cost of the project spiraled from its original £545m budget.

 

 

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