'Priorities are perverse': Storm as Wirral Council prepares to replace its 2,400 outdated computers (From Wirral Globe)
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'Priorities are perverse': Storm as Wirral Council prepares to replace its 2,400 outdated computers
Computer experts are to be drafted in to help Wirral Council decide how best to replace its obsolete PCs and laptops.
A report to next week’s cabinet meeting says that of the 3,500 devices currently used by staff, 2,400 are out of date.
A budget of £675,000 has been set aside to cover the cost of replacing obsolete equipment.
The move provoked fury from Tory oppostion leader Jeff Green who said the council's priorities are "perverse."
The cabinet report says “most organisations” refresh their devices every four or five years, but this has not happened at Wirral.
Many machines have been in use for seven years or more and need replacing and upgrading to Windows 7 operating system.
Conservative leader councillor Jeff Green stormed: "It strikes me as perverse to be spending this money on computers at a time when the administration has just told parents of children with a statement of Special Educational Needs that the council can no longer afford to automatically provide free school transport for their youngsters.
"It tells you everything you need to know about the priorities of this authority.
"The people who provide these funds are the taxpayers of Wirral, but this council remains so self-obsessed and inward-looking it believes it's okay to spend £670,000 on itself rather than on vital services for them.
"It's a scandal."
His colleague Cllr Chris Blakeley said: "It seems a bad time to be spending this amount of money with so many budget cuts going on, but in a technological age, this equipment is very outdated.
"However, cabinet should be asking councillors themselves to pay for any upgrades to equipment they are personally supplied with."
Labour council leader Cllr Phil Davies dismissed Cllr Green’s views and accused him of trying to score political points.
He said: “I completely reject the idea that we have our priorities wrong.
"The council has got a lot of outdated computers and investment is critical in providing high quality services for residents.
“In most progressive councils, investment in good quality IT is a fundamental requirement and why should Wirral be any different?
"Cllr Green is taking a negative view of the challenges facing local government and it seems to me that is an attempt to score cheap political points when we need serious debate to take Wirral forward.”
The report by the director of finance says outside IT professionals should be hired to help with the project: “It is proposed to engage a company with experience of doing this work, to lead the implementation with a combination of our staff and suppliers.
“The reason for this approach is that it is a process we have never done before, and one which is critical to the continued operation of the council.”
Cabinet councillors will be told the old devices are creating access problems for their users, are slow to respond, frequently fail and incur high maintenance costs to keep them going.
The out-of-date software allows security standards to be breached putting the town hall at risk of failing its security accreditation.
It also “locks the council into old ways of working, denying access to the advantage of mobile working.”
The decision to renew computers originally was taken in 2010, but the project was never started.
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