Council plan to deal with phone abuse

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FORMAL disciplinary procedures are being drawn up to deal with the abuse of mobile phones and computers at Doncaster Council.

It follows a case where one employee resigned after building up a bill of more than £2,500.

A review of technology use by councillors and staff was launched after concerns were raised about ‘inappropriate’ use of taxpayer-funded equipment.

One worker was forced to leave after bosses discovered he ran up debts of £2,678 – largely a result of receiving gambling text alerts.

Three further investigations have been carried out – one that resulted in a second resignation, one that was dismissed for lack of evidence and one that is still under way.

The review found cost to the council of providing gadgets was £472,000, including around 2,000 mobile phones, 700 Blackberry devices and an average of £3 per month usage.

Members of the council’s ruling cabinet have now approved a new set of rules on the use and cost of council technology, drawn up by the authority’s newly-appointed finance chief Simon Wiles.

The council is trying to save £73 million and is looking at spending on mobile phones.

Although the disciplinary procedure is still to be formally published, the council said offending staff and councillors will first receive a formal warning if they were found to be abusing technology.

If they are discovered making ‘excessive personal or inappropriate use’ on a second occasion they will face withdrawal of any piece of IT equipment supplied and ‘possible disciplinary action’.

In his report to cabinet, Mr Wiles blamed a previous ‘lack of strategic direction, poor procurement, poor account management and poor record keeping’ for the recent problems.