EACH of Waterford City & County Council’s 32 councillors have been provided with brand new HP Elitebook laptops, worth over €2,000 each. The laptops have been purchased to replace iPads that were given to the councillors in 2019 but have been taken back because they “did not afford the level of security and functionality that was required”.
The Moorehead Report, which was published in June 2020, listed a number of provisions to assist councillors in preparing them “more fully for the role” and make the role more sustainable, particularly for individuals with caring, employment or educational commitments. These include training, capacity building and other supports, improvements in the running of Council meetings, technological supports and administrative assistance. With the advent of Covid-19 and the necessity for remote working – even as people are returning to work – the iPads were deemed insufficient to requirements so were refurbished and presented to Waterford Library services.
According to Waterford City & County Council, the laptops were purchased at a cost of €34,900 ex VAT. The 8gb version of the laptop is currently available online for €2076.59 but the versions provided to the councillors have a much superior memory of 16gb and an i7 processor, making it significantly higher in value than €2k. Factoring in VAT of 23%, Council paid €42,927 for the 32 laptops, but based on the performance of the machines, and the prices being offered online, they appear to have saved in excess of €30k.
The refurbished iPads have been given to the Library Service, to “continue to provide technological support and assistance to older service users, so they can stay connected with family and friends, through one-to-one and group workshops and training programmes”.
Council say that there was a ‘necessity’ to provide these iPads and by giving them the councillors old devices, they will save €16,000. Additionally, Waterford Library Services used funding from Creative Ireland to contribute €5,000 to the cost of the laptops that didn’t actually cost Waterford City & County Council anything. According to Waterford City & County Council, the net cost of these 32 high-end laptops, which are over €2k to buy online for the average shopper, is just €13,900 (ex VAT).