MP blasts county for �1.4m mobiles bill

SUFFOLK: An MP today urged bosses at Endeavour House to curb the use of mobile phones – after figures revealed the authority has forked out �1.4million on bills in only three years.

The data, released by Suffolk County Council following an Evening Star Freedom of Information request, shows �1,438,600 of taxpayers’ cash has been spent on using mobiles since April 2008.

The bumper bill has risen year-on-year, costing �391,899 in 2008/09, �500,557 in 09/10 and �546,143 in 10/11 – an increase of almost 40 per cent across the three years.

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for North Ipswich and Central Suffolk, said he believed the county’s previous administration had “taken advantage” of taxpayers.

He said: “While I understand that many members of staff will need mobile phones – in particular those who work in the community – I do believe that Suffolk County Council should be working to reduce spending. They need to make more effort to save taxpayers’ money and use that money for front line services rather than using it on back office.

“The fact is that this is a very large bill and I do believe that the management under the previous administration have almost taken advantage.”

The county council has 3,293 mobile phones with o2 and a further 500 with Vodafone.

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In attempts to reduce the cost, the county council has taken on a new o2 contact which aims to save the equivalent of �240,000 over the course of the next two years.

The new contact also means that they no longer pay line rental and there is no termination charge.

A spokesman for the county council said the figures also included the cost of laptops and dongles.

He added: “A lot of Suffolk County Council’s staff are lone workers out in the community – like social workers and home carers – so we provide them with the necessary communications equipment to perform their roles properly and safely.

“Costs have increased in recent years, in part because we have more lone workers and more of our customers wish to be contacted on mobile phones. Previous years’ costs were also paid in the last two years.

“Last year we recognised that these costs were increasing which is why the county council has now renegotiated the contract with our provider. This will cut 35pc out of these costs and save �240,000 over the next two years. There have already been significant savings made this year.”

n What do you think about this issue? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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