Letter: Vital phones

You carried a piece that seems an attempt to find evil where none exists, by accusing council workers of being "on the gravy train with a council phone" (6 April). My own council of East Lothian (ELC) tops the table by having 38 per cent of employees with council mobiles.

Every school pupil above the age of seven already has a mobile. Although you did not ask ELC why mobiles deserve high levels of investment, allow me to answer that question.

Firstly, many council workers (bin lorries, road crews, repair vans etc) have no desk; many more are often in the field (planners, inspectors, wardens etc) where a mobile is the only way to stay in touch.

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Secondly, ELC has improved its customer service by a combination of call centre, website and mobile phones. More people now get faster answers than when someone was unobtainable when not at their desk.

But thirdly - and most importantly - ELC has invested in a GPS-based dispatch system which allows travel to be routed efficiently between jobs. ELC may only have a fifth of Edinburgh's budget, but it covers a bigger area. It is estimated that more than 1.5 million can be saved from the property budget in reduced travel (saving both fuel and time), more efficiency (fewer people handling callouts) and faster service. This is possible only with mobile phones; the 400,000 cost cited pays for itself almost four times over.

Your paper would cease to be economically viable if it gave up digital and went back to hot lead printing, so why should local authorities return to their "dark ages" equivalent? ELC has the best budget with fewest cuts and is leading other councils in efficiency by measures such as this. Why, then, not report this good news as such?

Cllr Dave Berry

Former leader, East Lothian Council

MSP candidate, East Lothian

Balderstone's Wynd

North Berwick