Council splashes out £10k on iPads to end 162,000 sheet per year paper use

Breckland Council has bought 39 iPads to cut back on its paper used. Picture: Colin Finch

Breckland Council has bought 39 iPads to cut back on its paper used. Picture: Colin Finch - Credit: Colin Finch

A council has taken action to cut back on its paper usage after years of using an estimated 13,500 sheets every time its planning committee met.

Breckland Council Offices, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Breckland Council Offices, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Typically, Breckland Council's planning committee agendas are around 300 pages in length and until this month it printed 45 copies per meeting.

This and the council's other 12 committees left it with an annual paper cost of around £7,500 - which includes posting agendas out to members and printing costs.

However now, in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of its meetings, the council has splashed out more than £10,000 on iPads, allowing members to access agendas digitally during the meetings.

It has bought 39 of the mobile devices, at a one-off cost of £10,143 - an amount that will be counteracted by the paper cost saving in less than two years.

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The tablets will be used for all of the council's committees and not just planning - though it will mean members of the public will not have paper agendas available.

A spokesman for the council said: "By equipping our elected members with the right technology, we are removing the need for paper agenda packs at all our committees, with the aim of making these meetings as effective, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly as possible.

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"IPads not only enable members to view and annotate their agenda papers during meetings, they also provide instant access to the systems and information they need to effectively perform their wider duties as a councillor - whether that is in a meeting, working from home, or out meeting with residents."

In the past the council had employed people specifically to print things, however, the spokesman confirmed that no staff were affected by the change.

He said: "Our printing is out-sources, which means this change will reduce those print costs even further over time."

The council's planning committee meets every month, which meant each year an estimated 162,000 pages were being printed off for this meeting alone.

According to an online tree usage calculator, this would have been the equivalent of chopping down around 11 trees per year.

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