SBC Gravy Train rolls on (and on) . . .

Whitby --> Featured --> SBC Gravy Train rolls on (and on) . . .

SBC Gravy Train rolls on (and on) . . .

SBC Gravy Train rolls on (and on) . . .

  • TIM THORNE reports on the disinformation surrounding the SBC iPad controversy – and reveals the truth about the undercover perk culture at the Town Hall.


Over a year has passed since the Scarborough Borough Council iPad fiasco. You will likely remember that the Council shed a total of 37 jobs when it bought the Councillors iPads.

SBC Officer claims, also voiced by Council Leader Tom Fox in the Council chamber, were that the shiny new iPads would cost the tax payer a measly £160 each.

You may also remember that the laughable figure of £8,000 (£160×50) to equip the fifty elected members with shiny new iPads was comprehensively rubbished on this website, and the true cost was in excess of £53,000, after information was unwillingly extracted from SBC via an FOI request.

You may also remember some of the drivers behind the project. As austerity bites hard, Councils around the country are trying to save money and the purchase of the iPads was supposed to save money over the long term.

Council Leader Tom Fox was quoted, saying:

  • “Out of £2.2 million pounds in savings in the budget, £53,000 is savings related to having iPads.”

Another driver was that elected members would no longer need Broadband at home as the iPads would be equipped with a 3G connection, negating the need for Broadband. This would also curtail any further allegations of double-dipping.

Scarborough Borough Council (amazingly) has answered an FOI request.

The response indicates that five elected members still have their Broadband paid for by the Council, over a year after the Council replaced their laptops with the new iPads!

Far be it from me to tell public servants how to do their jobs, but if you’re looking to save money, why not cease paying for those elected member Broadband lines when you’ve publically stated they no longer need them, since you’ve replaced them with iPads?

The FOI response also states that a total of thirty SBC Officers have a Broadband line that is paid for directly by the Council.

Curiously, if you read through the SBC Employee Benefits page and Employee Handbook you’ll find no mention of any authorization for that particular perk.

What is the total cost to us tax-payers of all these Broadband lines that were never supposed to exist?

£15,376.32 per annum.

The Gravy Train stops at St Nicholas Street, Scarborough – but only very briefly.


Other SBC iPad Articles:

iPads for Scarborough Borough Council

The true cost of iPads for Scarborough Borough Councillors

The £53k Question


About the Author:

Website Admin for the Real Whitby Website. All authors of the Real Whitby Website have access to publish on the website. Individual authors will usually sign off their articles with their own names.


  1. Brian Dodds June 16, 2013 at 8:32 am - Reply

    There is a hell of a difference between Tom Fox,s estimate and the actual cost, by the look of it he just pulled a nice low figure out of thin air to make it appear to be a good deal. Typically, it ended up costing over 6 times the estimate, why are we not surprised, as you say, the gravy train keeps chugging along and these criminals are are just lapping it up at our expense. But it is easy to see where they get their inspiration from, Cameron and company are milking the system wholesale.

    • Tim Thorne June 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      To be fair to Foxy, he was likely given the information by an SBC Officer and quoted it as fact.

      I wonder how many more Councils around the country tried to buy iPads for £160?

  2. Nigel Ward June 16, 2013 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Small wonder that Council Officers wrote the script of the defence statements for the Double-Dippers that they were supposed to be investigating. The illicit perks system must be preserved at all costs – especially if those costs are being met by the general public.

    Of course, the reason this material was released by the new FOIA Officer could very well be that he is a ‘new boy’ in the job and has yet to be bullied into keeping the council’s guilty secrets.

    He will not be Mr Popular on Monday morning.

    Still, he can hardly be sacked for committing heinous crime of transparency, can he?

  3. Patricia David June 16, 2013 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Whilst I am no apologist for SBC Councillors who do not very clever things, having worked with some of them, (my next public appearance is at Cabinet on Tuesday next) the more I am convinced that the fundamental problem lies with their total and absolute dependency on their senior officers who in my professional view are less than adequate for their post in these very difficult and troubled times. Officer refusals to answer direct letters, enforcing us to go to FOI where we still do not get replies, commonly plucking figures out of the air to make their point but refusing to underpin them with facts is commonplace. Witholding information on spurious pretexts is the norm, but we are all clever enough to find it out anyway. I could go on……….

  4. Richy June 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    Guessing 3G doesn’t work in everyones homes…so broadband still needed, of course the ipads with 3g are a lot more expensive than those without.

    • Tim Thorne June 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      Essentially, equipping all those iPads with 3G was a bad idea given the costs of data transport. I think this was pointed out a year ago too.

  5. kathleen parker June 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Where there is a fiddle there’s an SBC Cllr!

  6. george conway June 16, 2013 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Dear Patricia David

    I agree with you that there is a shortfall of competence and capability in those who run SBC departments. Unfortunately all get tainted with the same brush and I am sure that there will be many at SBC who sees things as you do.

    Dear Tim Thorne

    15,376.32 seems a lot for broadband for 35 users, did you get this info also under FOI from SBC

    • Tim Thorne June 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      George, yes, that info came from FOI. Scarborough Borough Council are buying Broadband at an average cost of £450 per annum.

  7. Fred Karno June 16, 2013 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    Two likely reasons. Firstly some houses will not get 3g mobile coverage, so irrespective of ipad with SIM card, those councillors will still need home broadband to pick up agendas etc. probably a cost that the council did not take into consideration regarding cost benefits of switch? Secondly, if you were a councillor that had taken out a two year minimum term f broadband, you might expect to be repaid the broadband allowance over the length of the contract? My answer there would be that if councillor signed to confirm they would make no private use of broadband, then the claim would be legitimate. This action would likely have reduced the council cost to nil as all councillors would still want a broadband connection. However it is likely that this action would not have occurred to SBC.
    All in all Patricia is right that it is probably more to do with SBC than councillors
    As far as officers broadband is concerned – if you are a senior employee at many companies and are expected to catch up on email, answer questions whilst off work etc. then it is common for the company to pay for home broadband. I don’t think that is unreasonable.

    • Tim Thorne June 16, 2013 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      Another reason is that a number of Councillors had Broadband paid for by the Council and the Council forgot to switch them off when they were moved across to the iPad solution.

      Everyone has Broadband at home. I’m sure 99% of SBC employees have it already. Why is the tax payer picking up the tab of £450 per annum when it can be purchased for under half that? Why are we paying for all of it when they use it for personal stuff too? This is a typical incompetent, money wasting, lazy public sector worker making another stupid decision.

  8. J.G.Harston June 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    My reaction to being offered an iPad is: I learned to type with ALL my fingers forty years ago, I am not going to hack off nine of my fingers and return to prodding and poking like a toddler trying to finger-paint. I an NOT b****y illiterate, stop trying to insist that I am.

  9. James Toney June 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    I don’t see the problem with this. They have iPads and broadband that costs proportionally virtually nothing. Why aren’t you putting effort into campaigning for something worthwhile rather than whining about a few pence here and there that is being spent on stuff they actually need and is perfectly reasonable to be paid for?

    • Tim Thorne June 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      You miss the point, James. The decision to buy 3G for 50 Councillors with a 2GB monthly allowance on a 2 year contract has cost the tax payer £24k. They ended up paying £10 per GB of data moved. There was little need to buy 3G for the Councillors and that silly decision cost the tax payer £24k.

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