By Jason Theodorou

Leicester City Council is preparing to equip all 54 of its councillors with Apple iPads from May 2011. Four councillors have already been given iPads, each retailing at £700, as a trail of the devices. The Council argue that the devices will be cost effective.

Labour councillor Sarah Russell said: 'We are trying out the iPad to see whether it improves the way we work as councillors... if it does, and it can replace costly printing, then the council could potentially save £90,000 each year. I have a laptop, but it is quite heavy, meaning it is awkward to take to several meetings a day'.

Ross Grant, one of the councillors who has the Apple iPad on trial, said that the device allowed him to engage more effectively with constituents, answering their questions of the street thanks to the device's blanket internet access. He has also received documents as PDFs, cutting down on printing costs.

The council says that it would be prepared to provide the iPad to its remaining 50 members next year, giving local taxpayers a bill totalling £38,000. The Labour-controlled council is attempting to save £19 million from its budget and shed 1,000 jobs in the coming four years.

Fiona Mcevoy, spokesperson for the Taxpayers Alliance, told Fresh Business Thinking: 'Many businesses have been struggling in the wake of the recession, it's insulting to those struggling to keep their head above water that the local council is spending money on top of the range equipment'.

'We certainly don't want this to be the case across the board in local government, and we shouldn't forget that technology dates so quickly, so we could be in a conversation in two years about these councillors buying the iPad 2'.

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