All of Lancashire’s 84 county councillors have been offered new iPhones – at a potential cost to the council of £27,000.
Councillors were issued with new phones just over a year ago, but the authority has received complaints that the handsets are not fit for purpose.
Now, they are being given several options, including an iPhone 7 – which would cost county hall a net £27,000 if every councillor took up the offer.
Deputy leader of the Conservative-run authority, Albert Atkinson, told a cabinet meeting that his current council phone will not work at all in the area he represents.
“We’ve had members from all parties not happy with their phones. The choice is for councillors – it is down to you.”
Deputy leader of the Labour opposition group, John Fillis, said: “Many of the people who have spoken to me regarding this are astounded that we’re giving out iPhones to councillors when we’re making cuts across the board.” Cabinet member for health, Shaun Turner, said it was “a productivity issue”.
“The phones we have been using are a terrible experience and just can’t cope with the demands of what they’re supposed to do. So we can carry on watching the [buffering] circle go round or we can get on with the job,” County Coun Turner said.
Coun John Fillis told council leader Geoff Driver that he was “quite happy” for Labour members to be excluded from the iPhone option – with the exception of one councillor whose needs required it.
Councillors can keep their current device, downgrading to a phone-and-text-only handset, using their own personal phone or taking the iPhone option.