‘We can’t hear you’ – investigation launched into council chamber sound system

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.
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Council chiefs say they are looking into problems with the sound system in the main chamber after a complaint from the public.

Town resident and former councillor Keith Fisher lodged a complaint with Hartlepool Borough Council after he and others struggled to hear proceedings at Tuesday’s Full Council meeting.

Keith Fisher

Keith Fisher

Mr Fisher said he and others felt excluded from the meeting as a result.

The council recently invested in the new microphone system used by councillors and officers during meetings after problems with the quality of the previous mics.

In an email to the council Mr Fisher said: “I was there present in the public gallery and found that I could not actually hear enough of the presentations to appreciate any of the important points or the decisions being made.

“There were several complaints from all around me in the public gallery throughout the meeting and upon leaving the chamber the sole topic of public conversation was about ‘not being able to hear’.

“Whatever is the capacity of the public address system the reality is that it is either insufficient in rating, or the speakers are not using it correctly.

“Whichever of those two explanations is appropriate the net result is that it is not working and thereby makes mockery of claims to open governance and transparency of decision making.

“In my considered opinion the fact that all councillors, apart from those at the top table, sit rudely with their backs to the public gallery simply cannot help in matters of either simple good manners or in audiometry.

“I would appreciate an assurance that I will not be excluded from hearing the next meeting.”

A number of members of the public attended the meeting to hear about a review of the council’s constitution.

Other items on the agenda included a Business Report from Chief Executive Gill Alexander.

The council said it is addressing the sound issues and hopes to have them fixed soon.

A spokesman said: “We are aware of Mr Fisher’s complaint regarding the sound system in the Council Chamber and have responded directly to him.

“We do apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.

“The matter is being addressed and we are hoping to resolve the issue for the next meeting.”