Only two thirds of Fenland councillors bother to respond to survey that will see them go paperless from next April
PUBLISHED: 16:54 27 August 2015 | UPDATED: 16:54 27 August 2015
Only two thirds of Fenland's 39 district councillors responded to a survey about going paperless from April next year - a move expected to be agreed by cabinet in September.
The council will also offer loans up to £500 to any member wanting to buy a computer – but these will be repaid out of their annual £4,600 allowances.
Councillors who refuse to use their own computers may be able to borrow one from the council for meetings but these will have to be returned afterwards.
Any councillors wanting paper copies of agendas and minutes after April 1 next year will be asked to pay for them “at their own cost”.
The public, too, will be affected by the proposed changes – being debated by the scrutiny committee on September 7- as only six paper copies of each agenda will be available at any meeting.
Geoff Kent, head of customer services, has compiled the report, with the help of four councillors, and says of the 26 members who took part in the survey; only two do not currently use a tablet or laptop.
The working group looking at IT has ditched a suggestion that the council spends £10,000 to provide each councillor with a tablet.
Mr Kent’s team estimates the council will save £4,000 by members going paperless and a further £5,900 by removing paper copies for the public.
Research carried out by Fenland shows that only East Cambs Council offers members an annual ICT allowance – of £450.
Cambridge City Council provides over half its councillors with a PC or laptop and only East Cambs “on request” provides councillors with a printer.
Until now Fenland says some its members get a PC or laptop, some get printers and some are provided with printer paper and ink.
One ray of hope for any financially strapped Fenland councillors is also reported by Mr Kent- he points out that member’ allowances “are currently being reviewed” by an independent panel.