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SLDC to consider giving councillors more cash to buy lighter laptops
COUNCILLORS could be given extra money to buy the latest lightweight laptop computers - despite many telling a council survey that they prefer their agendas on paper not screens.
Hopes by officers of South Lakeland District Council of the authority becoming a ‘paperless council’ also appear to have been thwarted.
A survey of councillors found less than six of its 51 members were ‘truly paperless’.
Now a special panel at the authority is likely to consider increasing the annual £3,880 allowance every councillor can receive so the extra money can be spent on the latest technological hardware.
Some complained that the current SLDC laptops for councillors - brought in five years ago - were ‘too heavy’ and ‘out-of-date’.
A report found: “The general consensus with regards to sending copies of agendas and minutes was that most members do prefer to receive hard copies and even many of those with personal access to the latest technology prefer the convenience of having a physical copy to write notes on and refer to as the meeting progresses.
“There were also comments that hardware being used during meetings could stem debate and cause distraction. There were still several respondents in favour of receiving electronic copies, these Members commented that they found them to be more convenient, cost saving, easy to access and and saved on having excess paperwork at home.”
The questionaire about IT issues was sent to the authority’s councillors and completed by less than half. A handful asked for iPads or iPhones to be given to councillors.
High-ranking Cabinet members are expected to get fully-encryptyed ‘portable devices’ so they can securely access the SLDC network.
It stems from ‘security concerns’ the council has over how councillors accessed emails and the methods used to send confidential information electronically - such as Part Two reports which are papers for meetings held behind-closed-doors.
The authority has spent over a year debating the issue with it going before four different committees and groups.
Netbooks have been ruled out after a task group found the screens might be too small for councillors.
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