The leader of North Lanarkshire Council insists the council’s £413,191 mobile phone bill is a vital expense and he wont apologise for it.
Jim McCabe hit back at heath secretary Alex Neil’s suggestion that the council is being mismanaged and is to blame for its own cuts agenda.
The mobile phone bill at the council has risen by more than £100,000 in the last three years.
McCabe said: “It is a necessary part of the support we provide and I wont make any apologies.”
The council leader said the 4300 phones used by some 16,000 council workers in North Lanarkshire were essential tools, and a vital lifeline for frontline services; supporting employees such as home support workers and housing inspectors.
Regarding the cuts due to hit the council, Mr McCabe said:“The cuts will be decided by elected members and cuts to phone bills will be minimal.”
Mr McCabe said of the claims made by Mr Neil: “It is a case of people in glass houses. The cost of the First Minister’s £470,000 trip to the Ryder Cup would have paid the council’s phone bill.”
He criticised Mr Neil’s 90 nights’ accommodation in Edinburgh at the taxpayers’ expense, saying: “That’s three months spent away from his constituents.”
In response, Mr Neil said: “Councillor McCabe completely misses the point; I was outlining areas where he could save money without shedding jobs, which should surely be his priority.
If he was to save 20 per cent on the mobile and land line bills for the council, for example, he could save nearly £300,000 a year."