Craven councillor iPad skills scupper paperless drive

Councillors at a North Yorkshire local authority are still struggling to get to grips with iPads provided to them two years ago and will receive additional training.

In February 2014, Craven District Council bought 35 devices for all its councillors and senior officers at a cost of £11,500, and committed £1,500 for training.

However, now the council has been forced to provide additional tablet tuition from internal ICT officers after it became clear that not all members are comfortable using their iPads.

Councillor David Staveley is chairman of the council’s scrutiny select committee, which has carried out a review of member ICT and data protection.

He told PublicTechnology: “Picture in your mind the average district councillor. Certainly ours tend to be from an older generation and moving to iPads has been out of a few members’ comfort zones.”

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Issues, he said, include difficulties in using software used to manipulate agendas, with some finding it difficult to make notes in the margins.

In addition, other councillors had struggled to get to grips with using his device’s camera.

“That is one of those hidden savings – if you are a ward member and out visiting a site, you might be able to send a few photos and save an officer a trip out.”

Training initially provided to councillors by an external firm had “fallen short of expectations”, according to Staveley’s report.

Until better support and further training was put in place, “the aspiration to move towards paperless meetings will not be achieved,” the report continued.

Staveley said: “We have a range of abilities and people need to go at different speeds. Our solution is to provide one-on-one training in house, tailored to individual needs.

“Anyone who feels they are capable of being a district councillor should be intellectually competent to take on a new skill like this,” he said.

The council initially provided the devices in order to provide secure email access to members in order that the council could comply with Public Services Network requirements.

Staveley said that Android devices had been judged to be too insecure, and that iPads were cheaper than Windows devices once the cost of licenses were taken into account.

Colin Marrs

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