Redbridge councillors raise concerns over cuts to their internet provision

Cuts to Redbridge councillors’ internet provision have not been properly communicated and could affect how they do their jobs, members said this week.

Redbridge Council is set to save �52,000 a year by no longer funding dedicated telephone lines and broadband connections for councillors in their homes.

From November 1, members will need to arrange and pay for their own home broadband.

Cllr Paul Canal, a Conservative councillor for Bridge ward, tweeted on Wednesday that some councillors feel Cllr Ian Bond, the cabinet member for resources, has “badly mishandled communication and implementation” of the changes.

And yesterday, Cllr Jas Athwal, the Labour group leader, said though it is a “good saving”, the problem is “letting members who are not IT literate do their job properly.”

Cllr Canal said: “There are good things in that report but the way it has been approached has used up a lot of good will.

“It’s not about having free broadband.

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“I have home broadband and the council broadband. My concern is for those councillors who rely on council broadband.”

Yesterday Cllr Bond said the proposal to cancel the landlines and broadband connections was published in November 2010 and agreed by council in March 2011.

He added that he arranged briefings for members from the council’s IT department.

He said: “Councillors [will be] in no different position to residents.

“They will not be left on their own.”

But Cllr Canal said: “The only detail was given to group meetings [in May].”

Members are due to debate a proposal to increase their allowance by �3.50 a month as a contribution to their extra costs.

They will still be provided with a laptop and printer by the council and will receive a mobile phone.

Cllr Bond said members will have access to the council’s IT Helpdesk.

But Cllr Athwal said: “You can [say] “advice will be given” but how much advice?”