SIX iPads will be trialled by Banbridge councillors at a cost of up to £1,000, after a majority of local representatives voted for the tablet computers to be purchased.
While some officers already have iPads, councillors currently work from laptops and paper documents. A trial period of four months was approved at last week’s council meeting after previous discussion of the pros and cons of buying the new technology.
Although 12 members were in favour of buying iPads, three voted against - some saying the ratepayers should not be footing the bill for such equipment.
Councillor David Herron said he did not see the logic in buying the iPads, considering it looks increasingly likely Banbridge council with merge with Armagh and Craigavon local authorities in the near future.
He suggested those who wished to use iPads should buy them themselves.
But Councillor John Hanna refuted this, noting that both other councils already have iPads for use by their members and adding that if the council was to go on any longer without the equipment they would look like “luddites”.
Mr Hanna, supported in his enthusiasm for the iPad purchases by a number of other councillors, said the new technology could save money for the council in the long run when paper was disposed of.
A report by Elaine Gillespie, Head of Community Planning on the council, priced six iPad 2s with 3G access over a two-year period at £1,000.
Before the vote Councillor Brendan Curran proposed 3G access was unnecessary and too costly and said wireless access would be sufficient - costing £12 less per month.
But he withdrew this proposal when it failed to draw support from other councillors who said 3G access would be necessary to make full use of the tablets.
One member of the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance as well as two from the largest council party, the UUP, will be provided with the iPads to replace their laptops in May.
A report will be brought back to the council after the four-month period. A request was also made by some councillors for a breakdown of the savings expected if paper is replaced by iPads.