CHESHIRE East has been paying for 3,000 mobile phones for its staff but 500 of those haven’t been used for several months, a councillor said.

Cllr James Pearson (Con) also said the council had now put a phone ‘amnesty box’ inside a staff entrance at Westfields.

The Wrenbury councillor brought up the matter during Thursday’s meeting of the corporate policy committee after council leader Sam Corcoran (Lab) had asked for suggestions as to how the committee could achieve savings.

Northwich Guardian: Cllr James PearsonCllr James Pearson (Image: Cheshire East Council)A report to the meeting indicated the committee needs to make savings of £1.2m – and £100k of this is earmarked from ICT.

Cllr Pearson said the phone issue had been revealed by interim chief executive David Parr in a message posted on the council’s intranet.

“The council’s been paying for 3,000 mobile phones, 500 of which haven’t been used for some time,” said Cllr Pearson. “Also, the other message from the chief executive – don’t use hotspots on mobile phones because the data is really expensive.”

He said it was clear the council didn’t have good controls in place when it came to who it had issued phones to.

“This is clearly an example of where the council’s lost control,” he said.

Council leader Sam Corcoran (Lab) thanked the chief executive for uncovering the matter.

But Cllr Pearson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting, he wanted to know how such a wasteful practice had been allowed to happen in the first place.

“To be so far adrift on something that actually should be incredibly basic to manage is bizarre and needs further investigation,” he said.

“For 500 phones to be issued and not being used I think is alarming, given the practices and procedures that should be in place to safeguard the council’s assets.”