Technophobe leaders could pay penalty

GET to grips with the 21st century if you want to see your payments increase!That's the message today to technology-shy Ipswich councillors who are preparing for the move to their new home in Grafton House next month.

GET to grips with the 21st century if you want to see your payments increase!

That's the message today to technology-shy Ipswich councillors who are preparing for the move to their new home in Grafton House next month.

Members of the borough council will hear next week that there is to be no increase in their allowances until 2008 - and any rise after then would be dependent on their use of new technology.

The allowance freeze at the borough comes just weeks after county councillors decided to give themselves rises averaging 25 per cent while cutting services to the most needy.

Ipswich council leader Liz Harsant said that after a review of allowances, it was felt best not to change them but have another review during the financial year 2007/8 which would look at better ways of using new technology.

She said: “Any increase would have to be linked to an improved use of new technology. In the 21st century councillors have to be able to use computers and be in touch with the modern world.”

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Mrs Harsant said some councillors' inability to cope with modern technology was very frustrating.

“One of my colleagues is constantly asking why he hasn't been told about some issue or another. I keep telling him that he's been sent an e-mail about it but he doesn't know how to open that.

“That's just not good enough in 2006. All county councillors, with one exception, use computers all the time to keep in touch with their work.

“We have to achieve that at the borough as well and if it means teaching councillors the basics then that is what we have to do.”

The council would like to stop having to send out council agendas and documents by mail.

“There is no reason why they should not be sent out by e-mail. If my colleagues want to read them on paper they can print them out, but that would save money.”

Mrs Harsant said many councillors were happy to use new technology - but was aware there would be some resistance.

“But like it or not we have to change - and new technology will be an important element when new rates of allowances are considered,” she said.