Row over smart phone spend

Craigavon Lakes and Civic Centre. INPT24-300.
Craigavon Lakes and Civic Centre. INPT24-300.

Local councillors are to make a call on whether they all receive the latest iPhones at a cost of more than £14,000.

Although recommended by council officials, some councillors at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council were concerned at the high cost.

Council officers explained that because of data protection issues, councillors were required to have a separate phone to deal with council business. The proposed phones could be bought for around £350 each.

Sinn Fein Cllr Catherine Seeley was concerned at supplying smart phones to members and emphasised the need for a business case in light of Council’s accountability to ratepayers.

Ulster Unionist Cllr Jim Speers asked what the status was at other councils.

He cautioned that if the council proceed it could leave it open to a challenge by the Local Government Auditor.

Council Chief Executive suggested the final decision would rest with full Council and the next meeting of the Party Leaders Forum represented an opportunity to discuss the matter.

A Council spokesperson confirmed the matter had been deferred to the Governance Policy and Resources Committee for a review of costs.