A decision by Bury Council to equip its binmen with Apple iPads to try and save money has aroused ratepayer and tabloid anger.
Earlier this week, the Greater Manchester council, which has to make £18 million in savings over the next three years, voted to spend £9,000 on equipping its 22-strong fleet of refuse collection lorries with the tablet computers from October onwards. The handheld devices will be used by binmen to try and raise recycling rates and reduce the amount of rubbish sent to landfill.
The Council believes that the iPads will save taxpayers many thousands of pounds by ensuring that fewer bins are missed as it costs £40 to make an individual collection. A further goal is to reduce the amount of rubbish sent to landfill, which costs each taxpayer £134 per year. Last year, the local authority spent around £170,000 on returning to empty bins that it had missed first time around.
The tablet computers, which will be mounted on the dashboards of trucks, will also enable binmen to log residents who are not recycling correctly and reschedule rounds in case of bad weather.
But Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, a right-of-centre group that campaigns against public sector ‘waste’ said: “It beggars belief that a council making huge savings can find this money to splash out on iPads. Residents want bin services that are reliable and efficient, not council staff monitoring what they’re throwing out with expensive gimmicks.”
The now-controversial move follows a similar project at The London Borough of Harrow to fit touch screen systems in refuse trucks in order to record recycling, with the aim of saving an estimated £3.2m over the next 10 years. Leicester City Council has received similar flack over its decision to buy iPads for