Plans to take away councillors’ iPads were described as ‘contentious’ at a Denbighshire council meeting.
Councillors debated a report over Zoom at a democratic services committee meeting, detailing proposals to adopt new ways of working following the May 2022 elections.
Currently councillors are given iPads to use for virtual meetings as well as other technical kit. But the new proposals will see councillors given laptops and phones – and their Apple iPads taken back.
Officers explained councillors often required dial-in support, enabling IT officers connecting remotely to solve technical issues. But iPads don’t allow that connectivity.
The report also advised new protocols, including guidance for councillors on etiquette at virtual meetings, such as leaving their cameras on when possible and not criticising members who choose to attend meetings remotely rather than physically.
Cllr Julian Thompson-Hill commented: “There are a couple of contentious issues in here (the report), I accept. The most contentious, probably, is that members won’t be provided with an iPad following the elections. Some of the problems with the iPads are that ICT staff aren’t able to dial-in remotely, and you’ve got the remote diagnostics facility on the laptops, so they can dial in and go into your system and solve any problems.”
Denbighshire’s head of business and improvement Alan Smith said: “You expressed the idea that some of this is contentious, and I can understand that people have become very attached to their iPads over the years, but, for me, this is part of a much broader transition.
“In the last couple of years especially, things (remote working and technology) have moved on at such a cracking pace that everybody has got much better at it.”
Councillors also learned they could still claim expenses if they chose to attend a hybrid meeting physically and that they could be recompensated for costs such as childcare. Members were also told they should not use the chat function in virtual meetings to type non-essential messages to others.
Councillors were also encouraged to upgrade their broadband. Cllr Meirrick Lloyd Davies enquired how that was paid for, and Cllr Julian Thompson-Hill said improved broadband was often no more expensive and that councillors’ allowances covered some of these costs.
The committee recommended the council supported the report, which will be discussed at December’s council meeting.