Peterborough council cancels 128 unused mobile phone contracts costing £1,700 a month

Nearly 130 mobile phones unused by Peterborough City Council staff have had their contracts cancelled, which will save the authority more than !,700 a month.

Sunday, 29th September 2019, 12:47 pm
A council memo said 300 phones were being unused, although a spokesperson later claimed the true figure was 200

The Peterborough Telegraph revealed last week that the cash-strapped council, which is facing a deficit of £25 million in next year’s budget, had admitted a “staggering” 300 phones were not used despite being under contracts worth up to £22 a month.

The discovery prompted an internal message from the council urging staff to “look in drawers, cupboards etc” to find the unused phones and hand them back.

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The council later claimed the true number was 200 but said the cost of the unused phones was at least £2,000 a month.

However, this may be underestimating the true figure as that total did not include unused phones given to councillors and “third parties”.

The PT asked the council whether it was paying for those phones as well but has not received a response.

The unused phones were given to staff relocated from the Town Hall and Bayard Place to new offices in Fletton Quays to allow them to “work in a more agile and flexible way”.

The council said the sale of Bayard Place in Broadway, and the leasing of parts of the Town Hall, was saving it £319,000 a year.

Now, the authority has revealed that it has contacted 199 members of staff whose phones have not been used in the past two months.

Of these, 128 have been “identified by staff and managers as no longer needed,” so the contracts have been cancelled - saving £1,755.89 a month. There is no cancellation fee with EE.

Moreover, the council said another 59 workers who “have used their phones very infrequently” have been asked if they still need them of if they can be reallocated or have their contracts cancelled.

Of those, 12 phones were being used for emergency purposes or for staff members on long term sick or maternity leave.

On top of that, a further 38 phones used by council partners Serco, Vivacity and Aragon have also failed to be utilised, despite the council reimbursing them for the contracts.

The organisations have now been contacted by the authority.

Cllr Mohammed Farooq, cabinet member for IT and transformation, said: “Our staff have worked very hard and I am very proud of them.

“I am the cabinet member for transformation as well as IT, and I always want to make sure that we can work as efficiently as possible, but this must always be by offering good value to our taxpayers.”

The contracts range from £3.16 for voice only and £15.79 for unlimited calls and 2GB of data.

Last week, the PT revealed council staff had been sent an internal message from the authority’s private IT provider Serco which had identified a “staggering 300 mobile phone numbers showing zero usage over the last two months”.

Approached for comment, a council spokesperson said the 300 figure was just for one month.

Cllr Ed Murphy, Labour and Co-operative member for Ravensthorpe, said: “It’s astonishing that the council is telling people to look in draws and cupboards for phones not being used.

“They’ve obviously been wasting money, but it’s good they are trying to sort this out.

“But how long has this been going on for?”