LANCASHIRE County Council’s 84 members will be offered the option of choosing a top-of-the-range iPhone7 costing £455 each for their individual use, the authority’s ruling Cabinet decided yesterday.

It agreed the new mobile phone deal just minutes before authorising the doubling of concessionary travel for disabled NoWcard holders before 9.30am from 50p to £1 per journey.

The county council Labour group’s deputy leader Cllr John Fillis objected to both moves.

He said: “We are doubling the cost of bus travel for disabled people but Tory county councillors will get their iPhones, so they’re happy.”

The authority’s Conservative leader Cllr Geoff Driver said: “The two items come from different types of budget.

“The phones are a one-off cost while the disabled travel concession is a recurring annual one. It is little wonder the previous Labour administration left us with a £200million budget deficit.”

He also referred to Blackburn with Darwen Council’s June decision to spend £1.875m on new laptops for councillors and staff as an example of Labour spending on IT provision.

Cllr Driver said the existing Android Vodafone Prime smartphones bought when Labour was in control were not fit for purpose for the ‘efficent and effective’ discharge of county councillors’ duties saying it was an example of Labour being ‘penny wise and pound foolish’.

The cabinet meeting authorised spending of up to £38,000 by offering councillors a choice of four options - 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.

Cllr Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of the county council, said the cost would depend entirely on which phones were chosen by the 84 councillors, and even if they all took iPhones, the value of the returned devices and a promised dispute from BT would mean the final figure would be at least £11,000 less than £38,000.

Cllr Fillis moved that the Iphone7 option be dropped from the choice of options available to councillors and suggested that Labour councillors would not take up the expensive devices.

He pointed out that the £43,000 saving this year by doubling the early morning disabled bus fare and the £38,000 cost of 84 new Iphones were similar.

The fare increase will save the county £44,000 in 2019/20.