Outcry as iPads banned by council
A LONG-standing town councillor has threatened to resign from her post – after being banned from using her iPad in meetings.
Nailsea Town Council has voted to bar members from using iPads and laptops in meetings over concerns people would use them to either surf the internet, send e-mails or post messages on networking sites such as Twitter.
But the move enraged Councillor Mary Blatchford, who also represents Nailsea on North Somerset Council, and she called the move "archaic".
Mrs Blatchford says she needs to use her iPad in meetings to take down notes, as she is deaf and has a hand injury, which makes it difficult to write. She said the ban discriminates against those who have disabilities and is now taking legal advice.
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Mrs Blatchford said: "I find it much easier to type then to write. I also think a ban on electronic devices is archaic in this day and age.
"My husband and I have always used laptops in meetings, for as long as I can remember.
"I have yet to make a decision on whether to tender my resignation and am taking legal advice. But I need my iPad to be able to do my job as a councillor properly and serve the local community of Nailsea."
The move follows a similar ban on mobile phones and other handheld devices at meetings of Clevedon Town Council. The ban was brought into force after Councillor Jane Geldhart posted six tweets from a meeting referring to the town's Christmas lights switch-on and the opening of a new multi-use games area.
Her fellow councillors said a ban was needed because piecemeal information from a meeting posted online could be misconstrued and did not always give an accurate picture of business being discussed.
A ban is already in place at Nailsea Town Council on using mobile phones, as they interfere with a hearing loop system for deaf people.
Council clerk Ian Morrell said: "The recommendation from the policy committee and endorsed by the town council was to express its opposition to the use of electronic gadgets where they become a distraction to councillors and impact on everyone being fully engaged in debates. This is an entirely separate matter to the use of equipment required by councillors or staff in connection with a disability."
North Somerset Council has no official rules regarding the use of computers in meetings. Earlier this year the authority revealed it would consider a plan to give all 61 of its members iPads in a bid to cut down on the cost of printing and delivering agendas and other official paperwork.