SENIOR councillors will next week be recommended to authorise spending up to £38,000 on top-of-the-range iPhones for their individual use while doubling early morning bus fares for disabled passengers.

Increasing the cost of concessionary travel for disabled NoWcard holders before 9.30am from 50p to £1 per journey will save Lancashire County Council £43,000 this year and £44,000 in the following 12 months.

The two items will be considered consecutively by the authority’s ruling cabinet on Thursday.

Cllr John Fillis, deputy leader of the county Labour group said: “At a time when the authority is looking for savings I find it astounding the Cabinet is even considering spending £38,000 on new mobile phones for members.

“They should drop the proposal and transfer the money to keeping the 50p fare for disabled bus users.

“Councillors could follow my example and use a basic mobile phone as we all have laptops paid for from the council allowances.”

Conservative deputy leader of the authority Cllr Albert Atkinson said: “The current mobile county council phones, bought under Labour, are rubbish.

“We need new ones so councillors can be contacted. I use my own.

“The two sums of money come from completely different budgets. The money cannot be transferred from one to the other.

“The cost of disabled travel is a recurring cost each year, not a one-off like new phones from the councillors' technology budget.”

The cabinet will consider offering a replacement for councillors' existing Android Vodafone Prime devices worth £100 each.

The proposal, recommended by officers, would allow the county council’s 84 members the option of keeping the current handset, choosing an iPhone7 costing £455, opting for a basic Mobiwire Aponi phone and text-only device at £30, or using their own phone with Airwatch access to county council emails and intranet installed.

Councillors choosing the latter would receive an extra £5 per month allowance.

The next item on the agenda proposes going ahead with the increase in bus fares before 9.30am for disabled NoWcard holders from 50p to £1.