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Bury council defends iPads for binmen

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Bury council has defended its decision to spend £9,000 on iPads for its fleet of refuse trucks, saying the devices will allow it to provide a real time bin collection service.

The council has come under severe criticism for purchasing 22 of the touchscreen devices, which retail at around £400 each, just months after unveiling plans to make £12m of cuts to local services.

But they insisted the products, made by Apple, could produce significant savings by helping to reduce the number of bins missed by trucks and therefore the number of trips made by the vehicles.

The council, which collects rubbish from 83,000 houses each week, revealed that there were 4,228 reports of missed bins last year. Costing £40 each to revisit, it spent around £170,000 going back to empty bins missed on rounds.

A council spokeswoman said: "For a modest investment of £9,000, this technology should save us many thousands of pounds, provide residents with a better service, and promote recycling.

"We know how much residents value a responsive and reliable bin collection service. This system should ensure that the number of missed collections is reduced to an absolute minimum, because any problems are reported in real time to our customer contact centre.

"The system should also allow us to respond more quickly during the winter to any enforced changes in the collection route."

The council also said the soaring landfill costs contributed to the decision.

The spokeswoman added: "We need to urgently improve our recycling rates to avoid passing on crippling landfill taxes to local residents, which is already costing every local taxpayer £134 a year each and is set to rise to £250 a year if we keep dumping waste in landfill sites.

"This new technology will help us to log and monitor this, and help us in our ongoing efforts to promote recycling across the borough. It is absolutely vital that we increase recycling and reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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