Nottingham City Council’s Labour group took hundreds of thousands of pounds out of the budget for Committee Services this year on the basis that all the councillors could get laptops and work paperlessly from here on in.
There are many reasons why there are problems with this, not least that many of the councillors are not very happy with IT, the email system isn’t too good, and that laptops for everyone will cost a small fortune.
I’m more than happy to go paperless myself. I’m probably one of the very few councillors who processes more text electronically than on paper anyway, given that my social life is largely online and one of the strands of my work as a Lib Dem involves helping ineffectually keep LDV fresh.
But I am a bit worried about going into committees armed with a laptop. In one of the many meetings on the subject so far, I think I let my feelings show in front of the talented council employee in charge of the committee clerks who keeps the meetings running. For a few people, committees are the be all and the end all of their professional lives. For many more of us present at them, they are a chore that get in the way of other work we do. Armed with a laptop, it will be very tempting to get on with other work and pay still less attention to the proceedings of committee than we do when we are doodling on our papers.
But most of all, I think I’m worried about this:
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