SCARBOROUGH Borough Councillors last week voted to purchase iPads for each of their 50 members, despite huge public opposition.
Whitby councillor Joe Plant missed the vote after suffering a suspected heart attack at the meeting, but he has thanked residents for their concern and reassured them that the purchase of tablet computers is correct way forward.
An online petition by the Gazette’s sister paper, the Scarborough Evening News, registered almost 100,000 votes in opposition to the proposals, which were approved at a council meeting on Saturday.
Coun Plant, who represents the West Cliff ward, said: “We had a pot of money and it was either the iPads or laptops, and iPads were cheaper.
“You think, you have 50 councillors and you imagine all the meetings we have and all the paperwork.
“It’s no good carrying hundreds of pages around for a meeting, it was getting horrendous.”
At the meeting the leader of the council, Coun Tom Fox, said that he did not give any credibility to the online pole, which he said had created a “frenzy”.
He added that the switch from printed agendas would create considerably higher annual savings than had previously been stated – £53,000 instead of £10,000 – and would be made on a number of areas including salary, printing costs, materials and postage.
As the authority is buying 70 iPads in total, including units for council officers, they will work out at £160 each.
He added that members could make a donation to offset the cost but ownership of the individual iPads would remain with the council, and Coun Plant said that he will contribute to the price of his tablet.
“I don’t mind paying for it myself, it’s the best way forward,” he said. If we can make savings as well as doing a job, surely that’s better for the public.”
Eight councillors voted against the move but the vast majority of councillors were in favour of it.
Coun Plant missed the vote after taking ill and has thanked residents for their concern.
He said: “Thank you to everybody who has been asking about me and sending their best wishes.
“It’s very much appreciated, so thank you.”