City councillors in Peterborough run up £40,000 bill for 12 month phone costs

Peterborough City Council news from the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday

Peterborough City Council news from the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday

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City councillors ran up a bill of nearly £40,000 for landline and mobile phones costs in a year.

Peterborough City Council gives each of its 57 councillors an allowance of £568.68 a year for landline telephone usage, costing over £30,000, while some also receive additional contracts for mobile phones.

The money to use the landline phones is included in the councillors’ annual allowance of £7,962.08.

The council is currently tackling a deficit of £19.6 million and was recently criticised for spending £40,000 on a ‘modern’ Christmas tree for Cathedral Square, which it says has saved it money.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that councillors from July 2014 to June 2015 received a landline allowance of £31,632.06, on top of £8,156.84 for mobile phones over a 14-month period.

In addition, between July 2014 and June 2015, £5,701.80 was given to councillors for broadband costs, £1,804.35 for printers and associated costs, and £1,791.87 for ICT equipment (ranging from iPads to keyboards).

A council spokesman said: “Councillors need to be able to communicate with residents, businesses and officers to carry out their role effectively.

“All councillors receive an allowance of £568.68 a year to pay for the cost of their landline and any calls that relate to council business. This allowance has not been increased since 2009, with a rise being rejected by councillors in 2011.

“Also, under the members allowance scheme other equipment is available to councillors. This includes mobile phones if requested, where all charges for council business use are met by the council.

“Since these figures were released we have entered into a new all-inclusive contract which provides free calls as part of the monthly line rental. This will reduce the cost of the overall mobile phone bill for councillors.

“We also provide councillors, on request, home broadband access, as well as items such as laptops and printers to aid their duties as a councillor.”