Anger over ‘rumour’ of free computers

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A SENIOR Labour member of Sheffield Council has accused Liberal Democrats of spreading ‘untrue’ rumours - when the opposition party claimed the authority was planning to spend up to £55,000 on buying iPad computers for councillors.

The council is receiving the tablets free of charge on a trial basis from Apple, to test how they connect with Microsoft systems.

But only seven are being provided - and Coun Bryan Lodge, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said the trial was at no cost to the council tax payer.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, Lib Dem leader, issued a statement claiming that if all 84 councillors were provided with iPads it could cost the local taxpayer up to £55,356, not including monthly costs.

He said: “At a time when the Labour council is looking at closing dementia centres and doubling parking permit charges for carers, it is morally indefensible to spend taxpayers’ money on costly new gadgets for councillors or anyone else.”

But Coun Lodge said: “The rumours being spread by the Lib Dems are untrue.

“We are always looking at innovative new ways of doing things and a number of colleagues have iPads already. The trial offers us seven more iPads and equipment to see how they interface with the council’s Microsoft system to access emails and other facilities.

“This trial will not cost the council a penny and we will not be spending extra on buying iPads for councillors.”

The controversy in Sheffield follows a row in Scarborough after councillors voted to buy themselves iPads to save money on printing agendas for meetings.