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Council spends £670k on mobile phone bills

A BlackBerry mobile phone
A BlackBerry mobile phone

by James Scott


Kent County Council spent more than £670,000 on mobile phone bills for members of staff and councillors last year.

The authority paid the bill for 6,800 phones used by staff which came to £670,285.14 for the last financial year.

An initial £3,565.27 was spent buying handsets and setting up contracts, a request made under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed.

Campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance Emma Boon criticised the council for financing so many mobiles.

She said: “This is a staggering sum of taxpayers’ money and comes on top of the council’s spending on land lines and other communications costs.

“Of course in this day and age some spending on mobiles is absolutely necessary, but it is hard to see why the council needs to finance so many handsets. There are some very competitive tariffs on offer by mobile phone firms now, and those in charge ensure that they are getting the best value for taxpayers’ money and keep this spending to a bare minimum.”

Smart technology
Smart technology

A spokesman for KCC, which employs 15,000 members of staff and another 30,000 in schools, justified the huge bill.

He said: “KCC is the largest shire authority in the country and delivers a number of vital services like keeping Kent’s 5,000 miles of roads open, delivering adult and children social care and running over 592 schools.

“Quite clearly, like any large organisations, good communications is needed to run it effectively. We are always looking to do this with best value in mind, including using conference calls and cutting down on travel.”

He added that KCC had signed a new mobile phone contract with company O2 which would cut line rental and call costs.

What do you think? Is this a reasonable amount, considering the set-up costs and staff numbers? Should any officers or councillors be given mobiles? Join in the debate below.

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