Plymouth City Council's £578k a year bill for mobile phones
MOBILE phone bills cost Plymouth city council more than half a million pounds in a year.
Plymouth City Council issue almost 2,000 mobile phones, including 282 Blackberry handsets, to employees.
It means that almost half of all council workers are given a taxpayer-funded phone.
It costs the authority £31,035 a month for the 1,717 basic models they dish out and a further £17,191 for Blackberry smart phones.
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That's a total of £578,712 every year.
The figures were released to The Herald through Freedom of Information laws.
All councillors are offered a mobile phone when they are elected.
The Herald asked the council to reveal which members had turned down the perk. But it was unable to provide that information.
Bosses at city hall say that 2,000 mobile phones are essential in running the local authority.
A spokesman said: "The use of mobile phones is absolutely necessary in a modern organisation with over 4,000 employees working in hundreds of locations throughout the city and who often work alone in the community completing house visits and other activities.
"This is without taking into consideration the need to stay in touch with over a quarter of a million residents at different times of the day and night."
Current models purchased by the council are Nokia C1-02 and Nokia C2-01 camera phones and the Blackberry 8520.
The council spokesman continued: "Mobiles allow for flexible working to meet customer needs and reduce the fixed costs of landlines and other building-based communication costs.
"They also enable texting as a form of communication with council staff, which is particularly useful for some of our customers including those with hearing difficulties."
But she said that staff issued with a phone have to prove they need it.
The spokesman added: "Mobile phones are issued to staff where a business case for the need has been agreed at senior manager level, to ensure they are used only when the nature of the work requires it.
"Just some examples of council officers likely to be issued with mobile phones include social workers, youth workers and neighbourhood teams."
However, council chiefs insist they have negotiated the best possible deal on their mobiles.
The spokesman concluded: "As with all our buying and contract arrangements, we always look to negotiate the best value for money for taxpayers. We negotiate business rates with our mobile phone provider to ensure that we receive the cost benefits linked to economies of scale."