A BORDERS councillor has queried the cost and necessity of kitting out every elected member with both a laptop and an iPad.

Members of Scottish Borders Council were recently given more than £44,000 worth of brand new laptops, capable of running Windows 10, and larger iPads to aid with the viewing of documents and reports.

However, Galashiels councillor Harry Scott has raised concerns over the expenditure and necessity of the new tech. 

Speaking at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council on Thursday, August 29, councillor Scott asked: “During the recent upgrade of IT equipment why was it necessary to issue a laptop computer and an iPad to elected members, and what was the total cost of the exercise?”

In response, Kelso councillor Simon Mountford, who acts as the local authority’s executive member for transformation and human resources, said: “Elected members were issued with a laptop and an iPad as part of a recent upgrade to replace equipment which had previously been issued. 

“This equipment is provided to us to enable us to do our jobs, and the laptop and the iPad, as you will appreciate, provide different functions and that’s why you need them both. 

“The replacement laptops contain new software capable of running Microsoft Office 365 and Windows 10, while the previous software installed on the old laptops was Windows 7, and that will no longer be supported by Microsoft after January 2020. 

“This means that efficient use by members would no longer be available and would no longer be compliant with the council’s network, and therefore unable to connect to it. 

“The iPads were upgraded to provide larger screens and more compatibility to help with the viewing of the often large and complicated documents that constitute council reports.

“However, if any member wishes to only operate with one device then they are free to do so. Any devices which are surplus to requirements can be returned and will be recycled to staff.

“The total cost of this exercise was £44,535, but to put that into context, the move from paper to iPads has saved the council £17,000 a year in direct paper printing and postage costs, and that was at 2014 prices.

“Since the introduction of iPads for all councillors in 2014, more than £100,000 has been saved.”

To which councillor Scott replied: “In this day and age I’m surprised we need two bits of kit to do the job. 

“It’s first class equipment, but there’s officers here with just a laptop and it makes me wonder why we need two bits of kit when perhaps one would have done.”